Private schools in three cities in the São Paulo Metropolitan Region were allowed to reopen today for orientation and reinforcement activities, after more than six months were closed. In Santana de Parnaíba, about 40 kilometers from the capital, private institutions once again received students with strict hygiene protocols, including reserve and isolation rooms.
According to state government protocols, the limits of up to 35% of students in early childhood education and in the early years of elementary school and up to 20% of students for the final years of elementary and high school must be respected.
At Escola Primeiro Passo, dedicated to early childhood education, a television on the entrance guides students, staff and teachers in relation to the stages of contamination. If the school confirms a case of covid-19, an environmental cleaning protocol, including the use of concentrated disinfectant product “aimed at hospitals”, is adopted.
In case of contamination, a reserve room has been designated for each age group so that the other room undergoes an intense cleaning process. If a student shows symptoms, he is taken to an isolation room until the guardian takes him home. In this school, about 80 of the more than 300 students felt comfortable to return to face-to-face activities, according to the direction.
“Children felt less apprehensive because of the releases that are happening little by little. (…) But we felt that there was a socio-emotional, cognitive setback,” says the school’s director, Rafael Bittencourt. He cites the differences between the trust of parents who have children in the public and private networks. “We did a survey and saw that 80% of parents agreed to return. In the City Hall, it was the other way around: 80% do not want their children back at school.”
In the city, poor neighborhoods contrast with luxurious condominiums and public schools remain closed while private schools can return, after investment in adaptations and partnerships with private hospitals.
In addition to Santana de Parnaíba, the City Halls of Carapicuíba and Franco da Rocha also authorized the opening of private schools for hosting and reinforcement.
Itapevi and Barueri had decided that municipal schools will remain closed until 2021, while private schools can operate.
Toys go through the cleaning process
A challenge for the resumption, says Bittencourt, is to bring back to students the processes of conviviality and dialogue that are pillars for the development of early childhood education. When the report was at school, some children did not wear masks at certain times. “There is no way to use it all the time, sometimes children take it off, it is more difficult for them”, says the director.
In each room of the private school, a basket with a plastic bag was installed so that, after the activities, the children put the toys they used. The parts are disinfected and can then be used again. Before the reopening, parents were invited to visit the school to learn about the protocols.
“We did trainings and each teacher has his own alcohol gel,” says the school’s coordinator, Rosana Imparato. “If you notice a runny nose, a fever, or a child who is sadder, they tell you the direction as soon as possible to communicate to the parents.”
At Colégio Pentágono, which also received students again, those who enter the school must complete a questionnaire reporting whether they have had symptoms of covid-19 or have had contact with someone infected in the last 14 days. A back to school committee was set up, and the school hired consultancy from Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein to assist with hygiene protocols.
“We invested a lot in technology. For example, in an audio capture system to be able to transmit classes live to those who do not want to return at this moment. It is being a laboratory for the other units”, says Julia Cortier Fares, communication coordinator Pentagon institutional member and school committee member.
The school received fewer students than expected this morning. In kindergarten, 23 out of 55 whose parents showed interest in returning.
A “covid room” has been set up and will have a nurse to assist in case of suspicion. The classrooms were transformed into “bubbles” by 15 students. If one is infected, the others have to quarantine at home for 15 days.
The return will be staggered: one week at school and two at home. Today, it was the first day for students of Kindergarten Elementary I; tomorrow classes from Elementary II and High School will return.
To understand the main learning gaps that have intensified with the pandemic, the school will conduct a survey of the students’ “essential skills”, explains Viviane Polito, pedagogical coordinator of the early years of the Péntagono Alphaville unit (Santana de Paranaíba).
“Whoever focuses on the content, on the ‘decorate’, and not on the children’s skills, will have more difficulties”, she says. Polito mentions, however, that some practices should only return next year, such as the cursive handwriting. Calligraphy was also cited as a learning process incompatible with distance learning.
“It is a learning process that requires movement, that requires the teacher to take the student’s hand and make the movement together. The computer key does not do this, there is no way to do this type of work online. And the wrong movement you never take more.”