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"The Government's priority is to keep the school in person", says Minister of Education

January 15, 2021

Original Article:

"Schools are not privileged foci of the disease", said Education Minister Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, in Parliament. Opposition criticizes lack of student equipment for distance learning.

The Minister of Education reaffirmed this Friday in parliament the continuity of face-to-face teaching, recalling that schools “are not privileged focuses” of Covid-19 transmission.

“We may be faced with a need to be able to move, in the shortest possible time and in the least possible territorial space, to have mixed or distance education”, admitted the Minister of Education, Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, during the debate in the specialty of the draft law of the State Budget for 2021 (OE2021).

However, the government official stressed that the first option is always face-to-face education : “The Government's priority is to maintain the face-to-face school”, not least because “schools are not privileged focuses of the disease”.

Tiago Brandão Rodrigues' statements appear on the eve of the Council of Ministers meeting scheduled for Saturday to decide new measures taking into account the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic.

One of the main reasons for maintaining classroom teaching is related to the results of distance learning experienced by students in the last quarter of classes: “Learning is compromised” , recalled the minister. However, he said, the Government continues to “work to have tools so that mixed education can happen” and, in a situation of “extreme need”, it even has to switch to distance learning.

Among the measures is the Study at Home program, which from November 9 will also have blocks destined to secondary school students. In addition, “the first 100,000 computers will be distributed by November 15,” recalled Tiago Brandão Rodrigues.

PSD deputy, Cláudia André, accused the executive of not having yet started distributing equipment , referring that "if students need it, they do not have, as they did not have in March, the conditions to take distance classes". “How many computers have been distributed to this day? None ”, accused Cláudia André, questioning whether the new equipment had been acquired through public tender or by direct agreement.

Regarding who will be the first students to receive the equipment, the minister explained again that it will be for the most deprived of schools classified as Priority Intervention Educational Territories.

Ana Rita Bessa of the CDS-PP regretted that the Ministry of Education broke the promise of the Prime Minister, who in April ensured the availability of computers to all students at the beginning of the school year, saying now that after all they are only the most needy students to receive this equipment.

On the opposite side of the hemicycle, communist deputy Ana Mesquita expressed concern about the lack of conditions in schools to ensure the continuity of face-to-face education , agreeing that this should be the priority.

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