Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta appeared at around 10.30 pm Sunday on TV to announce the Autonomous City was not going to adhere to President Alberto Fernández's decree from last week banning on-site schooling and that classes were to take place as usual on Monday.
Larreta founded his decision on a ruling late on Sunday by the Buenos Aires City Court of Appeals in Administrative, Tax and Consumer Relations, made up of judges Marcelo López Alfonsín, Laura Alejandra Perugini and Nieves Machiavelli, which underlined the City's autonomy in matters such as education.
Fernández, a law professor himself, said in reference to the judges' decision that what they did is legal havoc, because the court taking that decision lacked jurisdiction to do so. They are taking measures which are the exclusive prerogative of the Federal Judiciary, he stressed.
President Fernández last week issued an emergency decree containing a set of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. That decree included no face-to-face classes at any level for the following two weeks, until April 30 in the entire Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (AMBA), which includes but is not limited to the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires.
Therefore, neither the court's ruling nor Rodríguez Larreta's decision has an impact on those municipalities in the outskirts of Buenos Aires which fall under the score of the province's Governor Axel Kiciloff (of Fernández' same political allegiance) and their local mayors, most of whom also adhere to the national administration's ruling coalition.
Kicillof warned sanctions would be imposed on schools defying the president's orders and as if to throw a lifesaver at every fellow Kirchnerite concerned, Teachers Union leader Roberto Baradell announced a strike for Monday so as to ensure the presidential decree would look as if in force.
Buenos Aires Province Health Minister Daniel Gollán insisted classes at schools where all protocols are served were not the issue. Circulation of children and parents was.
And Buenos Aires City Education Minister Soledad Acuña admitted, however, that in view of the time when the announcements were made, it was quite unlikely classes would go on normally Monday, since schools had almost no time to make the necessary arrangements. But she anticipated it would all be back on track by Tuesday.
Other restrictions such as the 8 pm to 6 am curfew and all businesses closing at 7 pm are still observed within the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (CABA) and AMBA as well.
Larreta specified that all compulsory education (kindergarten, primary and secondary schools) would work face-to-face while non-compulsory education will work virtually.
The mayor of CABA also pointed out that sharing the President's concern about possible crowds, we will continue to strengthen the process of entry and exit of boys and girls and ”put the entire City Government team at the door of each of the schools: traffic officers and other awareness-raising (agents), also to reconfirm the admission schedules.
Larreta also vowed to strengthen control deployments at the city's transport hubs. We always make decisions based on data and we work hard to anticipate each stage of the virus. Therefore, if the health situation worsens, we have a proposal for each epidemiological scenario,” he insisted.
Rodríguez Larreta, of the opposition Juntos por el Cambio (JxC) coalition, asked BA citizens to avoid social encounters in closed places, to ”comply with each of the (school) protocols and that people leave public transport for the children at school entrance hours so that many people do not get together.”
The presidential decree had specifically imposed schooling restrictions for AMBA and invited all provincial governors to follow suit, but 13 of them have already declined the appeal.