Private schools in Portugal impacted by school closures, no remote-learning

Despite private schools pressuring the government to let them implement remote-learning, the government has decided that all students in the country should be entitled to the same number of face-to-face classes, according to a report by local newspaper Expresso.

Portugal closed its schools amid spiralling COVID-19 infections on Friday as the country registered the world’s highest infection rate. 

On Thursday, when the government’s decision to close all schools was made official, Portugal’s minister of education, Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, said: “This school break is for everyone.”

Some private schools will go ahead with a total interruption of classes, while others will maintain some non-teaching activities, such as “reinforcement, clarification of doubts, reading texts, group work”, Queiroz and Melo told Expresso, highlighting that these were all “non-mandatory activities” and outside the school curriculum.

“Schools want to comply with the law”, the director of the Association of Establishment s of Private Education (AEEP) told Expresso. “We disagreed a lot, we manifested that disagreement, but clearly, private schools want to move forward.”

The government’s move to ban distance-learning at private schools has been criticised, with leader of the centre-right opposition party Rui Rio, taking to Twitter to express his discontent at the measure.

“Banning digital classes in private education is a totalitarian and Marxist-style measure,” Rio wrote, adding that it had “nothing to do with the public interest or with the defence of public health.”

An online petition has been raised demanding that private schools are given the freedom to continue with distance-learning programmes. The ban, says the petition’s text is unconstitutional, violating ‘access to education and the right to learn, provided for in article 43 of the CRP (Constitution of the Portuguese Republic).

Within a couple of days of going online, the petition has raised over 10,500 signatures (click here).

Portugal reported 234 deaths related to COVID-19 on Friday and 13,987 cases of infection, the highest number seen in a 24-hour period since the start of the pandemic, bringing the total number of deaths to 9,920.