After a 15-minute walk through the quiet streets of Jardim Santa Bárbara, in the most extreme point of the west side of Sorocaba, this Wednesday morning, the 23rd, student Leonardo Camargo Cleto, 15, started the new routine for attend a classroom class at the State School Professor Geraldo do Espírito Santo Fogaça de Almeida. Backpack on his back, with a mask covering his nose and mouth, he went through the temperature measurement, nodded to the staff and, before entering the class, used the totem with alcohol gel installed on the door. “I am happy to be back, I was missing school a lot, I miss my friends, teachers and staff. I spoke with my parents and they agreed,” he said.
About five thousand schools in the state of São Paulo make the last adjustments for the return to face-to-face classes, after six months closed due to the new coronavirus pandemic. According to the State Department of Education, the gradual return begins on October 7 for high school students and youth and adult education. Elementary school students return on October 3rd. The resumption will be optional, that is, the return is not mandatory for students and teachers. Who is at risk, and those who prefer, should continue with distance classes, according to the government.
Until he decided to return, Leonardo was studying at home. He is in the 1st year of high school. “I came to school just to get handouts and test material. I could solve a lot on my cell phone, but in class it is different. When the school made an appointment about the return, my parents spoke to me and we decided together”, he said.
Student Jhenyffer da Silva Freitas, 15, had to overcome the trauma and fear left by the disease to resume presidential classes. Covid-19 hit her family hard when schools were already closed. At home, everyone had the disease. “We don’t know how, but I got it three months ago and I had a lot of symptoms. I couldn’t eat, I didn’t smell anything, I was sick. My mom, dad and two brothers also got it, but it was worse for her, remembered. “My mother visited the UBS (Basic Health Unit) several times, stayed in bed and was isolated for almost a month.”
When Jhenyffer talked about going back to school, the parents contacted the board and, as the quarantine period had passed, the return was authorized. “I know I must be immunized, but I take care the same way, for others”, justified the girl.
The director Edney Couto de Souza says that the secretary consulted the parents to find out whether or not they consented to the return of their children to the classroom. “We made contact with those who agreed and started to plan the return together with the teachers. We gave priority to those who had more difficulties to follow remote education, but some who are doing well insisted on attending,” he said.
The following week’s classes are defined in meetings on Fridays. “This anticipation is important to gain the trust of parents and students. Word of mouth works a lot, so much so that this week we had more students than last week,” he said.
According to supervisor Fernanda Amorim, parents and students are left free to decide whether to return. She says that a mother had already booked a class for her son, but then she went back. “She said her son has a respiratory problem and thought better of it.”
The mother of a student Sandra Regina Molina used a social network to comment on the return to school of her son Luan, from the 8th grade of elementary school. “My son was seen today, was well received and returned home happily,” he posted.
Health project teacher Maurília Camilla, 36, one of those who were willing to teach face-to-face classes, said she was missing the closest contact with the students. “We never stopped, because we gave classes online, but it is different to teach in the school environment.” On Wednesday morning, she had just two high school students in front of her, but she taught as if she were going to a crowded class. “The priority is for students with difficulties in remote education and they are doing well, but they asked to come to class. They end up encouraging other colleagues to come too.”
With 400 elementary school students and 280 high school students, ‘Gesfa’, as the school is known, occupies a new building that practically did not need adaptations to the new normal. The report found the installation of totems and dispensers for alcohol gel in the corridors and in all rooms, on both floors. There are marks for distance.
Traditional drinking fountains have been replaced by drinking water containers and disposable cups. According to the director, inventories of masks, facial shields, laser thermometers, towels and disposable cups arrived. The mediation room was adapted to function as isolation of students who are detected with symptoms.
Sorocaba is one of the few cities in the interior where face-to-face classes have been resumed in the state network, although with few students. In Itu, a decree signed on May 8 by Mayor Guilherme Gazzola (PL) suspended the return to municipal and state schools until October 4, when a new decision must be taken. The measure did not reach the State School Prof. Antônio Berreta, who had already been teaching high school students. According to the direction, the classes are reinforcement and for students with difficulty to follow the remote teaching.
With less than two weeks to go by the government’s scheduled return, part of the Itu state schools are not yet ready to receive students, according to art teacher Adriana Santos, who teaches in four of them. “At one of my schools, alcohol gel came in, but the totems didn’t come, so the installation was improvised. The masks didn’t arrive either, and there was no forecast,” he said. She said that the parents of students are afraid to send their children even to remove the teaching material and study at home. “The material arrived incomplete, even so the management called the parents, but many did not seek it out alleging fear of the disease.”
Professor Emerson Abud, who teaches history, geography, life and technology at the Presidente Artur Bernardes da Silva State School in Cerquilho, said that although the school has been renovated, the structure favors the transmission of the covid-19. “The rooms are poorly ventilated, with windows only on the patio, which is closed by the canteen and cafeteria. For that, there is no alcohol gel that can help.” According to him, the workforce is insufficient, as 45% of teachers have risk factors. “There is a lack of employees for cleaning. Our clientele is made up of young people who are in agglomerations all the time. It will be a risk for the teacher and the employee.”
The director of the regional sub-headquarters of the Union of Teachers of Official Education of the State of São Paulo (Apeoesp) in Itu, Rita Diniz, said that in six municipalities in the region, including Salto, Cerquilho, Porto Feliz and Tietê, the mayors suspended the classes in state and municipal networks until the end of this year. “We have already officially asked the mayor of Itu to also postpone it to 2021, as we know that the covid-19 is still in the city. In a survey we did with 500 parents, only ten were favorable to the return.” The city said it is still analyzing the union’s request.
In Campinas, the mayor Jonas Donizette (PSB) scheduled for October 7 the return to school for 70 thousand students from the municipal network, leaving the return to the state network optional. In Ribeirão Preto, the state network can return after October 20, when four weeks are completed in the yellow phase of the São Paulo Plan. São José dos Campos postponed to 2021 the classes in the municipal network, but must follow the government in the return of the state network. In São José do Rio Preto and Bauru, city halls will still decide on the return of students to state schools.
The undersecretary of regional articulation of the State Department of Education, Henrique Pimentel Filho, said that the entire state physical education network is being prepared for the return to face-to-face activities. “In some cities, where city halls have already released their return to school, the process is well underway. In Sorocaba, for example, 70 of the 81 schools are ready to return. The rest are in preparation, renovating bathrooms, adjusting details. The idea is that, until the return, all have received alcohol gel, masks, whatever is necessary “, he said.
According to the manager, high school students will already have regular grade activities, not just extra curricular activities. “They will be counted as teaching hours, but attendance will still be optional. The student chooses to go to class or continue teaching at home.” The strategy of the portfolio, according to him, is to consult the community to make a return. “Schools are making appointments. Where there is demand, where there is a student wanting to return to classes, the idea is to provide all the conditions for him to return safely.”