PALMA DE MALLORCA, 15 (EUROPA PRESS)
Although at the beginning of the school year some predicted an increase in the numbers of school absenteeism as a result of the coronavirus, the Ministry of Education, University and Research assures that the current situation is one of “tranquility”, something that is given by “the low rate of transmission recorded by the sector “. Along the same lines, the independent union of teachers ANPE agrees that “there is no significant data” of absenteeism in the archipelago.
“There were one or two families per class that did not take the children to school during the first week, but when they saw that nothing dramatic had happened, they brought them back,” says a primary school teacher from a Palma center. “My school is a world apart, we already had absenteeism and now the coronavirus has worsened much more,” laments another teacher from the same municipality. “In my school we only have one case”, thanks another teacher from Campos.
In fact, and according to what sources from the Government say, one of these teachers celebrates that families, especially those of infant students, “are very calm.” “It gave them a lot of security knowing that their children would not mix with students from other classes,” he explains. Despite this assessment, he points out that “there are always exceptions of people who complain”, but he is grateful that “most parents agree with the rules.” ACTION PROTOCOL
To face the possible increase in cases of school absenteeism as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Government published in September a protocol of action in these cases. In addition, it has hired 25 social educators, in addition to 26 other existing professionals, to prevent, reduce and eliminate absenteeism and premature abandonment, among other behaviors derived from social difficulties.
According to the counselor of a Manacor school, this year there have been two different situations: families who decide not to take their children to the center because they or a relative are at risk, and others who do so without presenting any justification. In any case, this worker remarks that, when it comes to students of compulsory school age, the Government “asks that families be provided with important support.”
“If it is shown that it is a danger for the child to go to school, an absenteeism protocol would not be carried out, a follow-up would be done,” says the counselor. On the other hand, when it comes to a case of ‘homeschooling’, which is a practice through which the student is educated at home or in a non-approved center, “yes you have to activate a protocol” and, as the instructions indicate, notify the Juvenile Prosecutor’s Office.
This worker also remarks that, in the case of unjustified absenteeism, “we always try to speak with the family to explain that this cannot be done and to notify them that a protocol will be opened.” Thus, he emphasizes that “never” will proceed to apply the protocol without first trying to get the student to go to school, because “it is a fundamental right that students can come to school, that is why it is called compulsory schooling.”
“My school is a world apart, a totally different context from any other school in Palma”, remarks a primary school teacher, who highlights that the center where he works usually welcomes students with very different backgrounds, some of them with family situations complicated. “There are students who were absentee before and now they are much more”, he emphasizes. In addition, he regrets that, “when a family is absentee in itself, there will hardly be a positive turn.” CASES OF PREVIOUS ABSENTEEISM
Likewise, this teacher affirms that, coincidentally, in his center, there have been several cases of students who claim that they do not go to school due to the current health situation but, nevertheless, it is later discovered in their records that they already accumulated absences of attendance in previous courses. “There is a mother who says that her daughter does not come for the coronavirus, but the file shows that last year she was already absentee,” he says.
The psychologist of the Official College of Psychologists of the Balearic Islands (Copib) Shannon de Jesús states that, in unjustified cases, absenteeism is “terrible” at a social level, since “minors need learning through contact with others”, and has specified that, given a lack of “relationships with their peers”, they could “develop a lack of social tools.”
“It is essential that children have contact with other people than mom and dad”, highlights the psychologist. In addition, he assures that the effects of absenteeism “are more evident in children and primary school than in secondary school” because it is at those ages that minors “learn to relate to their peers.” “The concept of the game is a learning in itself,” he declares.
Another kindergarten teacher from a Palma school explains that, although her school has not registered cases of absenteeism due to the pandemic in primary classes, they do have five cases of students from three to six years old who do not go to class and that they do not justify it in a conclusive way. “Although there are five cases, as attendance is not mandatory, in the end, it is left to be,” he acknowledges.
In relation to this, the counselor explains that the center will always try to get the student to go to school “to prevent and promote their development and learning.” Likewise, he says that “the idea is not that because absenteeism is childish it does not matter” and claims that “if they have been enrolled in class it is because they want the child to come.” In the event that no agreement is reached, the center may terminate the student in question. SATISFACTORY ADAPTATION BY MINORS
On the other hand, regarding the return to school from this ‘new normal’, the Copib psychologist celebrates that the adaptation of most of the students of the private school where she works “has been brutal”, since she considers that the students they have normalized the security measures at an “amazing” speed and have ensured that most of these children “follow the ‘rules of the game’ super well, as if nothing was happening.”
Likewise, he criticizes that the use of the mask in nursery and primary classes can generate a loss of up to 70 percent of communication, since “at these ages, children learn from non-verbal communication and from grimaces, which are super expressive. ” In addition, De Jesús also laments the digital divide and points out that ways should be studied to appease the differences that this can make for students.
While the Government does not forecast a significant rise in cases of school absenteeism in the face of the second wave of coronavirus that challenges Europe, the independent union of teachers ANPE considers that, “probably”, absences “will increase when the second wave of the pandemic is more advanced. ” In any case, the teachers highlight “the security and confidence that most parents show.”