Health Dilemma: Teachers Are Unsure About Going Back To School In Mexico
The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, ordered that all teachers and school personnel be vaccinated, so they can return to classes before the end of the 2020–2021 school year. Teachers in some states have already received the vaccine, but many do not feel ready to return to the classroom, and the school year established by the Mexican Ministry of Public Education will end in less than two months.
“It is very appreciated that the government has decided to vaccinate all school personnel, but the children themselves are not vaccinated, nor are the parents. [Many] are not within the age range that the country is vaccinating. They [children and parents] are two red flags of contagion, even if they maintain protective measures such as masks or face shields,” said Karina Salas Ruiz, an elementary school teacher at a private school in Veracruz.
Veracruz successfully carried out an immunization campaign to vaccinate 197,430 teachers and education employees. However, teachers are concerned that the rest of the state population and the rest of the country have not yet been vaccinated, posing a risk to children, especially now that there are more COVID-19 cases in children globally.
“I believe that exposing them to a closed classroom environment with air conditioner… is putting them at risk,” Salas Ruiz said.
The teachers’ fear lies in the concern that the children have not seen each other in person for more than a year. They will interact in the classroom and could spread the disease if someone in their family has it. They can develop the disease or be asymptomatic carriers. Schools have no way of controlling this, especially since parents can interact during the day with other adults at their jobs.
“I’m worried,” said Sonia Valdivieso Correa, 39, the mother of a third-grade student at a public elementary school in Boca del Río, Veracruz. “My son takes care of himself, and we as a family are healthy, but we do not know how his classmates and their families deal with this, especially if they have had cases of relatives with COVID-19.”
“The concern is not in itself with the teachers, but that despite the sanitary measures of social distancing, and the use of masks and hand sanitizer, the children will be physically interacting with each other. They are children. … I think the government should wait for the entire population to be vaccinated,” said Valdivieso Correa.
(Translated and edited by Gabriela Olmos; edited by Kristen Butler)