New challenges for education. Madrid Universities´ response to covid 19.
After this different and difficult summer, it´s time to face September and the return to classes. There is the same question in everyone’s mind; what is going to happen with education and COVID-19 during 2020? Today´s article will try to synthesize how Spanish universities are facing the new academic year and what are some of the security measures to be implemented in the classes to create a safe space for students and university administration.
There is one week left before all Spain universities are fully reopened after their closing back in March due to COVID-19, and there is still a lot of uncertainty about what will be the next steps in this new challenge. Spanish schools plan to return to normal activity as early as possible and the education ministry has been working together with higher education institutions, education agencies, and regional governments to coordinate the response to the crisis. The main goal is to prevent students from missing yet another semester and the aim to complete the full academic year in school.
Staggered start in every university
The beginning of classes will be spread over a period of four weeks, according to universities, to avoid crowds and monitor how the pandemic evolves. Thus, the regional authorities intend to reopen all the Spanish universities between September 7th and September 28th.
Face-to-face classes are a priority but only with half of the capacity of students per class. The plan is to start with a "hybrid" format that would combine both, online and face to face classes.
“Extra” Security Measures
Regional authorities´ plan includes not occupy at any time more than 50 percent of the capacity of classrooms, laboratories, or libraries. All classes, spaces, and facilities will be cleaned frequently; and there will be an attendance control in all university premises, including sports, to be able to detail traceability if necessary. The use of masks will be mandatory both in the classes and in the facilities and the ventilation will be intensified. Also, there will be one COVID coordinator appointed in every university to check the compliance of all measures. In addition to that, all universities must assign a space with all the security requirements to isolate any suspect case of COVID-19
The plan presented last September 2nd also includes carrying out 30.000 serological tests in the university community. The Regional Government and all the 14 public universities of the regions will take the tests to all students, teachers, administration, and service personnel. These results will provide key information as to the current situation now and will allow us to track the evolution of the pandemic on university campuses in the next few months. These tests also open the door to important scientific research.
40 Million investment for IT renovation
There will be a University digital transformation plan implemented in all public higher education institutions in the Madrid area with a total budget of 40 million euros. These funds will allow universities to invest in IT systems and technologies including advanced image and sound capture systems, 360-degree cameras in classrooms, new recording studios to produce attractive virtual content, virtual reality labs, and resources to produce massive open online courses in order to adapt to “the new normal”.