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Back to school in Spain: When do classes resume in the different regions?

It’s back to school for Spanish children after a break of six months but with a surge in coronavirus outbreaks across the nation, the resumption of classes is not straightforward.

Back to school in Spain: When do classes resume in the different regions?
Photos: AFP

It’s back to school for Spanish children after a break of six months but with a surge in coronavirus outbreaks across the nation, the resumption of classes is not straightforward.

The central government has issued a set of guidelines to keep the classrooms safe including extra hygiene measures and compulsory facemasks for children over the age of six but extra measures have been decided by regional education boards.

Spain's 17 regional governments, which are responsible for health care and education, have introduced a patchwork of different measures, and that in some places that includes staggering the return to school depending on the age groups.

So here is a guide to when school is starting, for what age groups, depending on the region.

Bear in mind, these are the return dates for the state schools and private schools will have their own timetables. 

Andalusia

The academic year has already started in Andalusia for the youngest students with “infantil” or “preschool” starting on September 1st. In primary schools (colegio), classes begin on September 12th and on September 15th for secondary schools (instituto) for those aged between 12 and 16 (ESO) and for those doing “sixth form” (Bachillerato).

Aragon

infantil starts on September 7th, colegio on September 8th and instituto on September 10th

Asturias

In this northern region students up until the age of 12 (infantil and colegio) will have to wait until September 22nd for classes to start while those at the instituto won’t start until September 29th and higher education courses (FP) until September 30th.

Balearic Islands

All schools and all age groups will go back on September 10th although higher education courses (FP) classes start on September 29th.

Canary Islands

infantile and colegio students will return to classrooms on September 15th while those at institutos will go back a day later on September 16th, those on FP courses on the 17th.

Cantabria

Classes will begin for the younger students (infantil and colegio) on September 7th and for instituto and FP students on September 10th

Catalonia

Classes at all schools resume on September 14th

Castilla-La Mancha

All schools are scheduled to reopen on September 9th

Castile y Leon

For infantil and colegio students the school year begins on September 9 while older students are not set to return until 14.

Valencia

Classes begin at all schools on September 7th

Extremadura

Students in schools years at infantil, colegio and ESO will return on September 10th while bachillerato and FP go back a day later on September 11th.

Galicia

Classes begin on September 10th for infantil and colegio age students while older students return on September 16.

La Rioja

Students will return to school on September 7th although it is possible that a combination of school and online learning might be introduced for students from the third year of ESO.

Madrid

This is where the “back to school” schedule gets the most complicated as the capital copes with a resurgence in the coronavirus and a steep rise in the number of new cases. Authorities here have chosen to stagger the return with nurseries open from September 4th while classes for infantil and the first three year groups in primary will begin on September 8th.

The upper three year groups (Year 4,5,6) won’t begin until Thursday September 17th.

The students in the 1st and 2nd of ESO, and those at FP Básica and Grado Medio will begin on Friday, September 18th.

The 3rd and 4th year ESO students will return to the classroom on September 9th, and so too will those studying in bachillerato.

While those attending FP Superior won’t go back until September 28th.

Murcia

Classes for those at infantil and colegio students will begin classes on September 14th, a delay of a week. While Secundaria and bachillerato classes have been delayed until September 10th and 11th and FP students until September 15th.

Navarra

Classes in Navarra will begin between September 4th and 7th for all educational levels, depending on the school.

Basque Country

Classes for all ages will begin on September 7th but will be limited to mornings only,

Ceuta and Melilla

In Spain’s enclaves in North Africa classes will begin on September 9th in Melilla and on September 10th in Ceuta.

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COVID-19

Spain rules out EU’s advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 

Spain’s Health Ministry said Thursday there will be no mandatory vaccination in the country following the European Commission’s advice to Member States to “think about it” and Germany’s announcement that it will make vaccines compulsory in February.

Spain rules out EU's advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 
A Spanish man being vaccinated poses with a custom-made T-shirt showing Spain's chief epidimiologist Fernando Simón striking a 'Dirty Harry/Clint Eastwood' pose over the words "What part of keep a two-metre distance don't you understand?' Photo: José Jordan

Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias on Thursday told journalists Covid-19 vaccines will continue to be voluntary in Spain given the “very high awareness of the population” with regard to the benefits of vaccination.

This follows the words of European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday, urging Member States to “think about mandatory vaccination” as more cases of the Omicron variant are detected across Europe. 

READ ALSO: Is Spain proving facts rather than force can convince the unvaccinated?

“I can understand that countries with low vaccine coverage are contemplating this and that Von der Leyen is considering opening up a debate, but in our country the situation is absolutely different,” Darias said at the press conference following her meeting with Spain’s Interterritorial Health Council.

According to the national health minister,  this was also “the general belief” of regional health leaders of each of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities she had just been in discussion with over Christmas Covid measures. 

READ MORE: Spain rules out new restrictions against Omicron variant

Almost 80 percent of Spain’s total population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, a figure which is around 10 percent higher if looking at those who are eligible for the vaccine (over 12s). 

It has the highest vaccination rate among Europe’s most populous countries.

Germany announced tough new restrictions on Thursday in a bid to contain its fourth wave of Covid-19 aimed largely at the country’s unvaccinated people, with outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking in favour of compulsory vaccinations, which the German parliament is due to vote on soon.

Austria has also already said it will make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory next February, Belgium is also considering it and Greece on Tuesday said it will make vaccination obligatory for those over 60.

But for Spain, strict Covid-19 vaccination rules have never been on the table, having said from the start that getting the Covid-19 jabs was voluntary. 

There’s also a huge legal implication to imposing such a rule which Spanish courts are unlikely to look on favourably. 

Stricter Covid restrictions and the country’s two states of alarm, the first resulting in a full national lockdown from March to May 2020, have both been deemed unconstitutional by Spain’s Constitutional Court. 

READ ALSO: Could Spain lock down its unvaccinated or make Covid vaccines compulsory?

The Covid-19 health pass to access indoor public spaces was also until recently consistently rejected by regional high courts for breaching fundamental rights, although judges have changed their stance favouring this Covid certificate over old Covid-19 restrictions that affect the whole population.

MAP: Which regions in Spain now require a Covid health pass for daily affairs?

“In Spain what we have to do is to continue vaccinating as we have done until now” Darias added. 

“Spaniards understand that vaccines are not only a right, they are an obligation because we protect others with them”.

What Spanish health authorities are still considering is whether to vaccinate their 5 to 11 year olds after the go-ahead from the European Medicines Agency, with regions such as Madrid claiming they will start vaccinating their young children in December despite there being no official confirmation from Spain’s Vaccine Committee yet.

READ MORE: Will Spain soon vaccinate its children under 12?

Spain’s infection rate continues to rise day by day, jumping 17 points up to 234 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday. There are now also five confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the country, one through community transmission.

Hospital bed occupancy with Covid patients has also risen slightly nationwide to 3.3 percent, as has ICU Covid occupancy which now stands at 8.4 percent, but the Spanish government insists these figures are “almost three times lower” than during previous waves of the coronavirus pandemic.

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