São Paulo plans school reopening in September

São Paulo plans school reopening in September
Vans and school buses parked on a street in the Vila Mariana neighborhood, São Paulo. Photo: Alf Ribeiro/Shutterstock

The state of São Paulo has announced plans to resume in-person classes on September 8. Students will initially rotate between in-person and online classes to allow schools to follow social distancing guidelines. 

Governor João Doria expects a full return to be implemented at all grades of state and municipal public schools, from kindergarten all the way to university level. Schools will be allowed to bring back in-person classes with up to 35 percent of pupils, with subsequent phases of 70 and 100 percent if Covid-19 cases remain stable. Private schools will be recommended to follow the same guidelines.

As previously reported by The Brazilian Report, private schools have increasingly pressured state and city authorities to resume classes before the public system, arguing that private education institutions are better equipped to comply with strict safety guidelines. Private school students have been able to transition more seamlessly to online classes due to better school resources and smaller class sizes. A transition back to in-person classes would also occur more seamlessly in the affluent private system.

Experts, however, have argued that an earlier return of the private system would only widen the already sizable learning gap between private and public schools – especially in preparation for the National University Entry Exam (Enem) scheduled for the end of the year. Meanwhile, access to the internet and proper learning materials pose a hurdle for many public school students.    

Premature return?

Health experts have cautioned against what seems to be a premature return to normal life in Brazil. State and municipal administrations nationwide have increasingly resumed non-essential activities in a so-far unsuccessful bid to kickstart the economy. These latest developments have made São Paulo the first state to announce a return to classes since the Covid-19 pandemic first struck Brazil.

However, warnings that administrations have moved on too quickly from isolation have emerged. On Tuesday, São Paulo broke its daily record for both Covid-19 cases and deaths after loosening isolation rules.

In Porto Alegre, one of the most populous cities in the South region of Brazil, Mayor Nelson Marchezan reverted to strict isolation measures after a new spike in confirmed cases and deaths since reopening non-essential activities.

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