The pandemic of the new coronavirus will mean that, for the first time since it was monitored, there will be no line for daycare centers in So Paulo in late 2020. More recent numbers, to which the State had access, indicate that there were never so few students waiting for a place at this time of year. Months stopped seeking care because the units are closed since March. In 2021, however, the elected mayor will have to prepare the municipal network for an atypical movement, which should make the queue grow again.
It is estimated that 50,000 children will be able to seek vacancies next year, but due to the uncertainty of the pandemic, it is not possible to predict when and if, in fact, this will happen. Private early childhood schools closed and the population was impoverished with the crisis, something that can affect demand. According to experts, it is difficult to know when families will feel safe to take babies to daycare centers, since children are required by law to attend school from the age of 4. According to the State Public Ministry, the City Hall has an obligation to look for parents who are not in the school system to find out the children’s situation.
According to official City Hall data, in September there were 6,670 babies under the age of 4 in the queue. In general, this time of year records the peak of requests for places, with more than 70 thousand children. Due to the low number, at the end of the year, all of them must be enrolled only filling the surplus of places for those who leave nursery schools for early childhood schools because of their age. In December, 111,000 4-year-olds will leave daycare centers.
An example is the district of the city with the highest demand, Jardim So Lus, from the education board of Campo Limpo, in the south zone. Today, there are 981 children in the queue and 7,000 enrolled in daycare centers, which will continue in 2021. Like others, we will have gone to preschool, there will be 1,700 places left to serve the 981 in line, from 1 to 3 years old. Adding service for babies under 1 year old (who are not in line yet), there will be 2,037 places left in January.
Karoline Selmini, 23, has a 4-month-old baby and has returned to work as a day laborer. The son stayed with the neighbor. “I was afraid to put him in the nursery because of the pandemic and they told me they were not enrolling,” says she, who lives in Jardim Etelvina, on the east side. The City Hall is receiving applications via the Internet even with schools closed. In the Guaianases region, which includes the neighborhood where Karoline lives, there were only two children in line in September.
J Amanda Lenharo di Santis, 34, took her daughter Catarina, 2, from a private school during the pandemic due to financial issues and wants a place in the public daycare, but “only after the vaccine”. She is working at home and can take care of the girl. “I’ll be looking at the numbers of infected people in the city to decide the right time.” There are six children in the queue in the Ipiranga region, where she lives.
“The students will come back, only to predict when, and they will potentially return in greater demand,” says the executive president of Todos Pela Educao, Priscila Cruz. According to prosecutor Joo Paulo Faustinoni e Silva, of the Special Education Group of the MPE, the very low demand this year because of the pandemic should be a cause for concern as well. “The City needs to make an active search and make sure that these children are being well assisted, if they are not in irregular institutions.”
The Municipal Secretary of Education, Bruno Caetano, says that as of Monday, around a thousand employees will go to the ten poorest districts of the city to analyze the situation of students in the municipal system and also of those who are not yet enrolled. “The difficult thing now is not to zero the queue and, yes, to remain zero”, he says.
Today, there are 368 thousand enrolled in daycare centers in the capital. This year, 20 thousand new vacancies were created. But in 2021, according to the secretariat, the demand should be more than 50 thousand. Among the measures of this gesture is school transport so that children can be moved to units up to 5 kilometers away.
Caetano also says that at the beginning of the year the chain will have to deal with idleness in daycare centers, which creates a management problem because they receive it for enrolled children. The City is studying a way to transfer a fixed amount so that the units can maintain themselves even with few students.
For Beatriz Abuchaim, from the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation, the situation can even help, because it facilitates the distance and the implementation of health protocols. “This period of the first months of the new government will be challenging because it has to organize itself for this demand, another way of working.” And yet, for her, zeroing in on the queue is enough. “You need to see the quality of the education that is being offered.”
Since 2012, when there was an agreement between City Hall and Justia, about 154 thousand daycare centers have been created in the city. The current management is committed to making 85 thousand new registrations by December, which, he says, has practically been achieved. The Public Ministry, however, asked for explanations about enrollments made this year, but that would only be for 2021. According to secretary Bruno Caetano, the vacancies already exist and could be used as soon as the daycare centers decide to reopen. The City Hall authorized the return of classroom activities this month, but only 15 municipal schools returned.
The city today has about 10,000 enrollments described as “in process” by the City Hall, which include pending documentation or day care centers not yet completed. Even adding that number to the queue, it would be possible to end the wait for daycare because of the vacancies I will open next year. But, according to Caetano, there are 98 new units, some under renovation, for these students. A concierge allows the secretary to register 80% of the works carried out. Information is from the newspaper The State of S. Paulo.