David Sousa, who was speaking to Lusa regarding the guidelines of the General Directorate of Health (DGS) published on Tuesday, which will be more flexible in the next school year, said that the measures do not bring great news and that the role of schools will not be changed. “It was nothing new either because of the statements made by the Secretary of State for Health last week or in the media this week. It was already foreseen that there would be no major changes. The epidemiological situation is as it is and it has already been noticed that the maintenance of the rules that were in force until now, that is, those related to protection such as the use of a mask, distancing, washing hands, airing spaces would have to keep from our point of view”, he said.

According to the vice-president of ANDAEP, the changes are small, but they may actually have some contribution so that when there is a positive case of covid-19, there may be less consequences for a greater number of students. “From what we read there is no major change and these are measures that depend on the decisions of the health authorities. With regards to the role of schools, everything is maintained, that is, we have no changes to make. All that were the rules that were already in the plan remain in these guidelines”, he said.

David Sousa underlined to Lusa that the will of school principals remains: that during the next school year, teaching is 100 percent in person. “Our desire remains: during this year there are no schools to close, for teaching to be 100 percent on-site, this is our main objective. Everything that is done in this regard, given the circumstances of the evolution of the pandemic, is important to us. The worst would be having to confine again, close a school, confine many classes, this is the big problem that we want to avoid at all costs”, he said.

As part of the measures for schools to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, in the next school year, entire classes will no longer be forced to stay at home for two weeks whenever a positive case is detected, as happened from April onwards, when the DGS revised the protocol of action for these situations. The guidelines have now been revised, two weeks before school starts, and will be more flexible, as contacts considered to be low risk or who test negative must return to school.

According to the reference published on the DGS website, in a 'cluster' or outbreak situation, health authorities can determine the closure of one or more classes or areas of the school, or of the entire educational establishment. However, the document adds, "low-risk contacts and/or contacts of contacts whose tests are negative must interrupt the prophylactic isolation, resuming the respective teaching activity".

This is the main news for the next school year, which starts between 14 and 17 September with particular attention to the recovery of learning affected during the covid-19 pandemic, a work for which the DGS says it is also sensitive. The new guidelines maintain the vast majority of health safety rules, including the mandatory use of mask from 10 years old and "strongly recommended" for the youngest, from the 1st cycle onwards.

Similar to what happened last school year, when schools reopened in April, screenings will also be carried out before the start of classes, which will cover teachers and staff of all levels of education and students from of the 3rd cycle. These screenings will be carried out in three phases: by the end of the first week of classes, school professionals will be tested, in an exercise that starts on 6 September and ends on the 17. Secondary students will follow for the next two weeks, between 20 September and 1 October, and finally 3rd cycle students, between 4 and 15 October.