Small Aymaras return to classes protected against COVID

Jesús de Machaca, BOLIVIA (AP) – In the middle of the Bolivian highlands, a dozen Aymara students arrive at their school aboard their bicycles wearing protective suits, masks and alcohol gel to avoid contagion of the new coronavirus in the first week back to school.

In the midst of an upturn in infections in the country, the parents of the Jancohaqui Tana school, west of La Paz, decided together with indigenous authorities that the 2021 educational management be face-to-face and ordered small biosecurity suits to be made while in the most of Bolivia opted for distance classes.

The school, which is on the outskirts of Jesús de Machaca, a town of farmers and milk producers, is multisectoral, that is, it receives all children of different grades and a teacher teaches them in the same classroom.

“I send my son to learn. Always with care so that it is not infected. We live far away here, we didn’t go out to the city to avoid catching it, ”Sonia Huanca, 48, the mother of a student, told The Associated Press.

Last year the school year was interrupted because the State could not guarantee virtual sessions due to inequality in access to the internet and technological devices. The 2021 administration began on Monday amid stumbling blocks due to the same problems, although with the government of Luis Arce it was arranged that the activities be face-to-face, semi-face-to-face or through the Internet, depending on the epidemiological situation of each region.

The Ministry of Education also designed a platform for public schools, which was criticized the first week because it was cut off. They also arranged classes on television and radio.

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“I bought those smart phones, but it doesn’t work here, there’s no signal, so there’s no other way. I bought a tape recorder and it worked, but it’s not so much like coming, ”Professor Manuel Layme, who has been teaching at the Jancohaqui Tana school for two years, told the AP.

“It is a separate expense and we cannot indulge ourselves in continually using the internet,” Huanca added.

Layme expressed that he is happy with the initiative and assured that on his days off he will not go out to the city and to prevent it from being infected.

In contrast, the leadership of the teachers of the rural area assured that there are no conditions for the beginning of the school management. “The State is putting the student population at risk by taking students to educational units,” said the sector leader Andrés Huayta.

In Bolivia, the pandemic mainly affected the most populated cities, including Santa Cruz, La Paz and Cochabamba.

The Andean nation reported 2,021 infections on the eve, one of the highest figures since the pandemic began in March. The accumulated infections in the first week of February reached 222,447 and 10,571 deaths, the Ministry of Health reported.

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