Covid-19: Minister of Education warns of importance of testing in schools

Tiago Brandão Rodrigues assumed that this will still not be a normal school year

Photos: Nuno Costa | Sul Informação (File)

The Minister of Education warned today, September 14, that testing for the new coronavirus of teaching staff, non-teaching staff and students is very important to maximize face-to-face teaching in the new school year that starts today.

“We have 99% of our teachers with vaccinations. We have more than 80% of our young people between 12 and 17 years old with the vaccination already complete and many of them finishing in the next few days. It is very important that we can also add these tests to vaccination, no matter how redundant it may be, (…), no matter how inconvenient it is», said Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, on the sidelines of a visit to Escola Secundária do Cerco, in Porto, which started today the 2021/2022 school year with classroom classes and tests for teachers and non-teaching staff.

"What is certain is that we are doing it, also to comply with the rules and to be able to maximize what classroom teaching is", he declared.

Asked by journalists about the use of masks by students on school playgrounds throughout the school year, the Minister of Education said that "at this moment it is clear what is in force", referring to the recommendations of the General Directorate of Health that indicates the use of masks in school playgrounds.

“Right now it's clear what's in place. We know that we are always working with the health authorities to be advised, to be recommended and also to follow the instructions, obligations, recommendations of the Directorate-General for Health and this will be the case during this [school] year».

Tiago Brandão Rodrigues added, however, that what he wants is for a return to normality little by little.

"As a society, what we want is that we can gradually move towards normality, outside schools, in outdoor spaces, inside schools, both inside and outside, but only the pandemic situation and the health authorities will be able to advising, recommending and compelling what we have to follow».

Regarding the use of the mask, the minister recalled that last year there was “a reference that underwent slight adjustments and which was presented to schools and educational communities on August 31st.

“Schools were able to implement. There were some doubts regarding the methodologies regarding the use of masks indoors and outdoors in schools. The Directorate-General for Health can clarify this and these are the rules we have».

Asked about the main challenges for schools in this school year still with the Covid-19 pandemic, the minister assumed that this was still not a normal school year.

“This year will not necessarily be a normal year. First, because it is a year that follows many constraints, but on the other hand, because we know that it is necessary to recover a lot of lost learning and we are still in a pandemic situation with a set of constraints».

Tiago Brandão Rodrigues referred, however, that the schools have been “very fulfilling” and that “they have known how to understand each moment in an important way”.

«What we have to continue to do is work and enable schools to respond to the needs of each child, leaving no one behind and, above all, recovering learning and trying to gradually achieve what it is. normality,” he concluded.

Brandão Rodrigues today marked the beginning of the new school year 2021/2022, with his presence at the Escola Secundária do Cerco (Porto), belonging to a group of about two thousand students, which offers, in addition to normal education, vocational education and articulated education .

The minister entered several professional education classrooms, namely in classes in the Electronics, Automation and Computing, Informatics and Tourism courses, where he encouraged students to engage in PAP projects – Pedagogical Aptitude Tests – to enter the working world , but always alerting students that they could also fulfill a degree in higher education.