Portuguese children return to class with new rules, vaccination and test

More than a million Portuguese students returned to classes this Monday after the period of "containment" imposed by the Government to stop the increase in covid infections, a return after intense days of vaccination for both children and teachers. The schools open a week later than planned with new confinement rules and a firm commitment to vaccination. From today, a positive case in a classroom does not force all students to be confined, but only the positive ones and their partners (parents and siblings, for example). The Portuguese Minister of Education, Tiago Brandão, insisted today that "the face-to-face school is the one that counts" to settle the latest controversy about going back to school in the middle of the largest wave of infections that the country has registered. Brandão recalled that in the next few days, covid tests will be carried out on about 220,000 people from the education sector, including teachers and center workers, a "swept the whole community", which for the most part already has the booster dose. In addition, nearly 300,000 children between the ages of 5 and 11 have received at least one dose, a process that will continue in the coming weeks, in addition to those already vaccinated between 12 and 17 years of age. At the discretion of the minister, vaccination has been "absolutely fundamental" to facilitate this return to classes, which has allowed a "different picture" to the one registered last year on the same dates.

"Now we are reinforced, with booster doses, and the children, with vaccination doses", he claimed. At the door of a Lisbon school, Sergio Silva was grateful for the start of classes because of the difficulty it has made for him to combine caring for his five-year-old daughter from home with his work.

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"I didn’t have that option. I had to work at my workplace. I have a daughter who stayed home. My wife works at home and it was extremely difficult to work at home and take care of a girl", he assured Efe in a statement. For Liliana Frisio it was also "extremely difficult" work at home but his office gave him facilities. Even so, he considers that the Government made a good decision by delaying the start of classes for a week "to avoid more dramatic situations" of infections after the Christmas holidays. Joao Batista considers that it was already "time to go back" to classes, and his son has returned happy, although during these days they have had to count on their grandparents to be able to manage teleworking and living with the little ones. Portugal, which is facing its fifth wave of infections and where the omicron variant dominates in more than 92% of the cases detected, will impose teleworking until next Friday, January 14. In addition, from this Monday, the isolation period for people who become infected with covid will go from ten to seven days. The country, with 10.3 million inhabitants, has counted more than 1.6 million infections and 19,113 deaths from coronavirus since the pandemic broke out.

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