The Lisbon Academic Association (AAL) and the Porto Academic Federation (FAP) today asked the Government to close schools and colleges and guarantee social action meals for students in need.
The Government will decide today, in the Council of Ministers, the closure of all educational establishments, from Basic to Higher, with effect from Friday.
Today, in a statement, AAL says it is concerned about the situation in the student community due to the evolution of the covid-19 pandemic.
“The Académica de Lisboa comes as a representative of the students to request explanations from the Government of the Republic on why the delay in making decisions regarding the closing of schools and colleges this Friday (…)”, underlines in the note.
In the Association's understanding, the Government followed the experts' opinions and suggestions, how to regularize all the problems that are still to be addressed: the lack of access to the internet and the necessary technologies, and together with the municipalities and higher education institutions, to ensure that no student is forbidden from the social action meal.
“We are concerned that there is not the same desire for protection when applying measures to combat the pandemic for students, as well as for the rest of the population. In this pandemic moment, it is known that the youth group of 18-24 represents the largest number of daily infections as well as the group of 13-17 ”, is highlighted.
The Association recalls that "there are thousands of sick students, many of whom may develop chronic problems or be at risk of life, and possibly tens or hundreds of thousands in prophylactic isolation to sacrifice their academic performance".
In the note, the Association also recalls that last year, it defended the Secretary of State for Higher Education that classes should be on a mixed basis, warning of the possibility that the pandemic situation could worsen and that because of this, the face-to-face regime should be limited.
“In our view, practical classes that are impossible to take and be assessed remotely could be done in person, with the rest being online”, stress the students.
Also the Academic Federation of Porto (FAP) today appealed to the Government in a statement to close the higher education institutions, ensuring the safety of all.
“Taking into account the extreme context that the country is going through, FAP reinforces the need to close Higher Education establishments, safeguarding the health of the entire academic community, their families and the protection of the National Health Service, which is collapsing ”, Says the President of FAP, Ana Gabriela Cabilhas, mentioned in the note.
In the opinion of FAP, “higher education has a high number of displaced students, placing them on the street and on public transport, which can translate into a risk, either for them, their household or colleagues in residence / house ”.
That is why they argue that the monitoring of students must be guaranteed, at the academic, social and economic level.
“No student can be left behind for lack of technological means. Reinforcing psychological support services is also a priority ”, says FAP.
The Government will decide today, in the Council of Ministers, the closure of all educational establishments, from Basic to Higher, with effect from Friday, a source from the executive told the agency.
"The information that the Government received on Wednesday, after meeting with epidemiologists, was considered very relevant and decisive for the decision, taking into account the growth of the British variant of the new coronavirus in Portugal," said the same source.
With this measure, the main objective of the Government, "is to isolate the entire school system", since, "with no classes, people are not forced to leave home".
On Wednesday, Portugal recorded 219 deaths related to covid-19 and 14.647 new cases of infection with the new coronavirus, the highest values since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Directorate-General for Health (DGS).
According to the DGS bulletin, 5.493 people are hospitalized, 202 more than on Tuesday, of which 681 are in intensive care units, that is, 11 more, two values that also represent new highs of the pandemic phase.
The number of hospitalizations has been rising since January 1, the day that 2.806 people were hospitalized.