Uruguayan authorities finally decided Wednesday that primary school pupils will have a two-week winter recess between July 3 and July 14 in a move to curb the contagion of respiratory diseases that have caused at least two deaths so far, it was reported in Montevideo. Plans to hold online classes that had been evaluated earlier this week have been dropped.
The July holidays were originally scheduled for July 17 to 21. Classes will now resume on July 17.
Uruguay's National Public Education Administration (ANEP) also issued a statement Wednesday announcing that meals for children who eat at their schools had been arranged for the holidays.
We followed the recommendations that the competent authorities from the health area have given us, said Olga de las Heras, General Director of Initial and Primary Education, at a press conference. The official also encouraged families to reactivate habits from the Covid-19 pandemic, such as hand washing and ventilation.
Meanwhile, the Labor Ministry recommended schoolchildren parents switch to teleworking whenever possible. ”The Ministry of Labor and Social Security recommends to employers in the public and private sector, to facilitate to workers who have school-age children in their care, the possibility of teleworking (to the extent that it is compatible with their tasks) during the first week of July, due to the early winter vacations, due to the increase of respiratory infections in children, the agency said in a statement.
Health Minister Karina Rando insisted the holidays needed to be brought forward because viral circulation was growing exponentially. She also explained that the death of two children due to respiratory infections had been reported.
Uruguay started last week with a growth that lately became exponential of viral circulation, Rando said. While these viruses affect people of all ages, cases in children under two years of age they have been more serious, which generated a higher than usual occupation of ICU and the trend has been increasing in the last few days, Rando argued. If the disease is not treated properly in young children it can lead to complications, such as death, she elaborated.
This is why a request was made to the National Public Education Administration (ANEP) to help reduce viral circulation by reducing the children's school attendance, because at school, contact is much more intense, she added.
If we have many children sharing snacks, toys, at recess, the level of exposure is much higher than, for example, in a movie theater, where everyone is sitting in their place and they are there for two hours and then they leave, the exposure time is less, she went on.
We know that vacations can generate some viral circulation, but it is always less than the transmission that occurs at the educational level, she also pointed out.
The minister also indicated that flu vaccination percentages should be higher. Although the vaccine does not cover the respiratory syncytial virus, it covers other types of virus and allows health centers to be relieved a little so that they have more capacity to attend those patients with the respiratory syncytial virus,” she argued.