As the coronavirus rises, Spain's back to school plans are under fire
MADRID: With coronavirus cases on the rise and less than two weeks of school holidays remaining, parents, teachers and opposition politicians in Spain are angry about government plans to reopen classrooms.

Latest government data showed that daily infections peaked at 7,609 on Friday – the highest since late March – before falling to 3,349 on Thursday. However, the decline may not be a trend as similar declines in recent weeks have been followed by new highs.

“Don’t be confused: things are not going well,” Fernando Simon, chief of the health emergency, told reporters.

Pablo Casado, leader of the People’s Party of the Conservative opposition, accused the leftist government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of guessing the country about reopening schools.

“Not a single Spanish family knows what will happen to their children at the start of the school year,” he said. “We cannot allow an entire generation of children to hold back their education because of a lack of planning.”

The Spanish regions are responsible for regulating return to school, although the central government will come up with national guidelines next week.

In Madrid, where more than 1,000 new cases were reported Thursday, regional authorities did not rule out postponing face-to-face classes, which put a strain on working families.

“We have to be a little careful about the date the schools will reopen,” Deputy Health Director Antonio Zapatero told Reuters. “Perhaps because of the positive level we have to rethink when we open up after ages.”

However, deputy regional director Ignacio Aguado said he was in favor of bringing children back to the classroom.

Teachers’ unions in Madrid have complained about a lack of resources and security measures and called a series of strikes in the first few weeks of September.

Spain has the most infections in Western Europe with more than 370,000 cases. Since a strict lockdown ended in late June, some restrictions have been reintroduced.

Almost 29,000 have died. The number of roughly 20 daily deaths in August is well below the more than 800 per day at the end of March, but has increased since the lockdown ended when it was in the low single digits.


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