Sunday, September 13, 2020

First Day of School 2020

Serafina started her last year of infantil (sort of like doing Kindergarten and 1st grade in three years) last week.  She started 5 años on September 10, 2020.  As with all three years of infantil, she is will the same kids and same teacher as last year so she was very (VERY) excited to go back to see her friends and her seño.

The beginning of this school year obviously looked a lot different thanks to the pandemic being caused by COVID-19.  All summer we had heard rumors that Spanish schools would go back in person -- I feel like this is a good consolation prize for enduring one of the world's strictest lock downs in the spring.  As the start date approached and we still hadn't heard much, we all got a little worried (both my American friends who send their kids to Spanish school and also the parents in Serafina's class).  

Finally the week before school started, we had a mandatory meeting with all the parents (of course we were told with less than a day's notice) to go over the new procedures and how to keep everyone safe while going back to school during a pandemic.  Despite the lack of notice, I thought the school did a good job -- separating the meetings by class, requiring social distancing, masks and such.  It was easily one of the most confusing meetings I had sat through in our time in Spanish schools.  Understanding Spanish is hard enough but behind a mask, it is next to impossible.  Then add in social distancing and I was so so SO lost.  Luckily one parent kept sending the group chat a play by play of the meeting so I was able to piece together all that was taking place.

There were quite a few changes taking place.  First, staggered starts for the school (Serafina now goes to school from 9:30 to 2:30 which is super weird since I have been so used to the 9:00 to 2:00 schedule).  Typically only one gate is used for everyone to enter and exit the school however now all the various gates are open to use (and each classroom has a specific gate they are required to use).  In the morning, kids walk into the school by themselves and go line up, no parents allowed (teachers and other helpers are there to direct the kids) and in the afternoon, parents enter the school and stand on a dot to wait for their child come to them, all socially distanced.  Only one family member is allowed to bring the child(ren) to/from school each day and parents aren't allowed to loiter around before or after school.  Masks are required for all children when not inside their classroom and we must send a clean extra mask each day.  Reusable water bottles are required, only one class goes to recess at a time, kids eat in their classrooms for snack, specialist teachers aren't rotating classes -- I am sure I am missing many things but they seem to have done a good job creating the "bubble" or pod type system that many countries and schools are using.

Overall, I feel really good about all the procedures the school and government have put in place.  I know it is not an easy decision to make and as a teacher and parent, I know that everyone is doing the best they can.  A lot of parents seem to be upset that more precautions are not being taken.  In Spain, it is illegal to not send your child to school starting when they are 6 years old (infantil is optional but the other grades are not).  So from what I have heard, parents are mad that they are being forced to send their children to school or risk fines, homeschooling does not exist here.  I will not speak one way or the other on it, each country and place has different systems and rules and they do what works for them.  But for us, as a family -- we are very happy that Serafina is back learning in the classroom and we feel that it is best for us.  

UPDATE 9/17/2020

Well, we aren't even a week into school and I needed to update!  SO much happened within the first three days of school, it was a little crazy.  And VERY hard to keep up with -- all the translating.  So, the first two days of school were optional for lack of a better term (it was like a parent directed strike to show the school/city that the parents wanted more safety measures put in place and that they shouldn't be fined for not sending their kids to school).  We choose to send Serafina to school because it was best for her.  THEN we got notice that Serafina's amazing teacher was considered high risk so her doctor released her from work -- so basically she is no longer Serafina's teacher and we have no idea if or when she can come back.  To say I was heartbroken was an understatement.  AND now there is another strike, this time with the teachers (I think) and it goes until October 16th.  But you can still send your kids to school which is what we are doing because again it is best for Serafina.  We have no idea who her teacher will be, and so far she has had a different teacher everyday this week :(  I would say only about half the class is going which works for me -- lower ratios!  Overall, Serafina is still very much enjoying going to school and we know that it is best for her.  Who knows what will happen with this school year but it is shaping up to be quite the adventure!

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