By Fatima Zohra Bouaziz
Rabat, Sep 8 (efe-epa).- Moroccan schools on Tuesday started a staggered return over three days amid selective closures in entire neighborhoods and cities to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Not all of the country’s seven million schoolchildren returned to their classrooms after unplanned school closures hours before the start of the new academic year were imposed due to infections.
All schools in Casablanca were shut, as well as several in parts of Rabat, Marrakech, Meknes and Tangier where the biggest outbreaks of the virus were reported, according to the education ministry.
Those that have reopened began a new term in the midst of strict sanitary measures and with a mix of in-person and online teaching.
One woman, named only as Fatima, who has a 15-year-old daughter, told Efe: “My daughter alternates classes in a face-to-face and online mode during the day, with few students present and separate desks.”
She said classes at her daughter’s private school in Rabat are given face-to-face by teachers and also streamed online.
Elsewhere in the city parents in masks dropped their children at school entrances while they queued up to have their temperature taken and disinfect their hands before entering.
The return of primary and secondary school students has been staggered over three days and will be accompanied by other changes, such as shorter break times and the suspension of school kitchens.
September will be a month of “review and support” for last year’s subjects before the new academic year begins properly in October, according to sources at the education ministry.
Many parents who spoke to Efe said they are satisfied with the measures taken by authorities in the classrooms but others expressed concern about the effectiveness of remote learning, especially in public schools.
More than 80 percent of Moroccan families opted for face-to-face teaching in both public and private schools, despite high levels of daily infections in the country.
Online education is a challenge for households with limited internet access, especially in rural areas and for parents who are forced to work outside the home.
The issue has been more acute in private education where parents have been engaged in discussions with school management for months, refusing to pay the same costs for online lessons.
A number of families have moved their children from private to public schools.
One father, named only as Jalal, criticized the high cost and low performance of remote teaching for his children last year.
“I have moved my three children between five and 10 years old to public schools this year,” he told Efe.
Moroccan authorities have reported more than 73,700 Covid-19 cases, of which 56,096 people have recovered, and 1,394 deaths. EFE-EPA