Paraguay returns to fully in-person education, makes vaccine push at schools

Asuncion, Feb 21 (EFE).- Around 1.5 million students returned Monday to their classrooms in Paraguay, many of them for the first time since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic there nearly two years ago.

Coinciding with the end of remote learning, the South American country also will use the reopened schools as centers where children five years and older can immunize themselves against Covid-19.

This shift back to normality comes after two years of virtual instruction and the first steps taken in 2021 toward in-person schooling at some institutions.

Public and private schools this year will be a part of the “Me vacuno en mi aula” (Getting vaccinated in my classroom) program, part of Paraguay’s nationwide immunization plan, health and educational authorities say.

The vaccine rollout for children will kick off at schools in some regions of the country on Tuesday.

One institution that resumed in-person instruction on Monday was Escuela Basica No. 3 Republica del Brasil in downtown Asuncion, where just over 500 students from pre-school through sixth grade returned to their classrooms.

Parents and children were met at the entrance with large, colorful “Welcome Back” signs but also with instructions about the importance of hand washing, maintaining social distance and using masks.

Wearing colorful face coverings with different designs and carrying bottles of disinfectant gel tied to their backpacks, the children formed a line in the school playground to wash their hands with soap and water in an makeshift sink before heading to their classrooms.

While on the premises, students are required to remain at a distance of at least 91 centimeters (three feet) from one another.

The principal, Val de Falcon, told Efe that the school will enforce hygiene protocols and “healthy distancing” in a bid to avoid infections, although – in keeping with the Education Ministry’s guidelines – students will not be required to show proof of vaccination.

She recalled that a hybrid learning model was adopted at her school in September but said all classes will be taught in-person as of Monday. EFE


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