MASK use and face-to-face teaching have triggered debate and controversy in recent weeks.

Schools shut down across Spain in March due to the coronavirus pandemic and classes were moved online.

But with close to two million students due to return to schools in Andalucia in the coming weeks, the number of students per classroom as well as mask use have caused controversy and concern with parents and teachers alike.

Experts warn that ‘children cannot be expected to wear masks of any kind for the duration of a school day’ and that ‘at some point, the mask has to come off.’

While the central government has issued a series of guidelines, it devolves powers over education and healthcare to the regions.

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Since July 15 the use of masks has been officially mandatory in Andalucia, As of then, all people aged six years and over must wear the mask in public, regardless if the social distancing of 1.5 metres is guaranteed.

With this regulation in place, the Junta’s Ministry of Education and Sport says that it is ‘recommended’ that students use masks while moving around school.

Once seated at their table, if the safety distance is maintained, they do not have to use the masks.

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CLASSROOMS: Desks will be arrainged forward facing.

During break time, when waiting to go to the canteen or when being picked-up at the end of the day, the use of masks is again ‘recommended.’

The level of prevention measures depends very much on establishing ‘air-tight’ class ‘bubbles.’

This includes minimising contacts between classes, with separate starting, finishing, lunch and break times.

Additionally, it means no big group events like school assemblies and arranging classrooms with forward facing desks.

Teachers will be requested to teach various subjects, in order to keep the staff of each ‘bubble’ to a minimum.

When the ‘bubble’ gets very big, the risk of transmission is greater and controlling its components becomes more complex.

The creation of so-called class ‘bubbles’ will permit children to socialise and play together without having to maintain social distancing.

The government had originally talked about class sizes of no more than 15 children, however authorities, due to lack of space, have gradually changed these numbers back to the standard 25 students per classroom.

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