Courts greenlight school reopenings in Rio de Janeiro

school reopening
Photo: Andréa Rêgo Barros/PCR

A labor court has sided with the state government of Rio de Janeiro in authorizing school reopenings. The decision, issued on Sunday, struck down an injunction against in-person classes in Rio’s private schools following a lawsuit filed by teachers’ unions against reopenings.

With the green light from the courts, some schools started to welcome students back today — while others plan to do so within the next couple of weeks. 

How to safely reopen schools has become a central question worldwide, as over a billion students have been affected by quarantines, according to the United Nations. In Brazil’s case, the stark inequality of the country has created two parallel realities for children in private schools — who could access e-learning tools while forced to stay home — and those in public schools — who often don’t even have access to the internet at home.

So far, seven states have greenlit private schools’ reopenings. But only the state of Amazonas (the first to experience a healthcare collapse in Brazil) has returned to in-person classes in public schools. In three weeks, 8 percent of school workers in Amazonas tested positive for the coronavirus. The spike in infections has worried teachers and parents alike, and unions are calling for remote-only classes.

How to safely proceed with school reopenings

According to the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil’s flagship biomedical research institution, schools should only welcome students in areas where the daily number of new cases is below 1 per 100,000 inhabitants.

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