The return to school after the Christmas holidays was relatively ‘normal’ with face-to-face teaching across all years. The spread of coronavirus in society has moved to schools after a few weeks of family and social contacts, although the incidence rates in education are still much lower than the general ones. However, throughout the education sector there is a fear that infections will continue to proliferate in the coming weeks, which could further complicate the processing of sick leave and staff substitutions, which are already problematic. The Ministry of Education reported yesterday that 300 teachers of public education are on leave for COVID, the vast majority for being positive, although there are also those for being close contact and not being vaccinated.
The percentage of public teachers affected by COVID is very low, only 1.8% of a group of about 16,000 professionals. The greatest impact is in Infant and Primary, with around 255 of the public teachers' absent across the Balearics. Supply teachers in Infant and Primary has been increased by 20, going from 60 to 80. At the beginning of the school year, this group of substitutions was composed of 30 teachers, being doubled a few days ago. Yesterday it was decided to increase it to 80. The 60 available a few days ago have already been incorporated. Further increases will be considered according to the needs of the education centres.
With regard to Secondary (institutes), the absences are being covered by the reorganisation of the centres themselves with the teachers on duty. The Ministry recognises that "the coming weeks may be complicated, but, taking into account the current impact of the pandemic in all areas, the number of teacher absences for now is acceptable. The infections in the centres do not reach 4% of the total, but there should be more vaccinations between 5 and 11 years, which on January 3 were only 16%. We hope that by the end of February almost all students will be vaccinated".
Joana Maria Mas, president of the Association of Directors of Infant and Primary School of Mallorca, highlighted "the delay of Infocovid in managing sick leave, which in turn is a problem for substitutions. In the students there is a trickle of positives and today (Monday) we have already had to call families to come and pick up their children because they had symptoms".
Joan Ramon Xamena, president of the Association of Secondary School Directors of Mallorca, indicated that "the whole society has relaxed, when we must act correctly at all times. There are complications in the dismissals and there is some fear and concern about what may happen in the coming weeks. I want to remember that at the beginning of the school year there were groups that did not want students to wear masks in the playground, but I also want to remember that schools have proven to be the safest place in society". Xamena added that there is a lack of filters and air purifiers in the centres.