The record numbers of infections detected these days with the omicron variant have resulted in an avalanche of positives from students, a fact that in Catalonia has overwhelmed the management teams of schools. Currently, a total of 93,826 young people of school age are isolated in their homes, from the Infant to High School and FP stages. That is, 6.52% of Catalan students. If only positives are counted, there are 88,569 in the last ten days, a percentage of 6.15%.
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Never before throughout the almost two years of the pandemic in Catalonia have there been so many positives or so many confined. The peak of isolations among the school population was 81,900 in October of last year, but with the difference that at that time the protocol forced all students in a class group where there was a positive to be quarantined. Now, the regulations establish that schoolchildren can return to class, unless of course they test positive a posteriori, or if they are from Secondary School and are not vaccinated (they must comply with the confinement), or if more than five have been detected in their classroom. positive or 20% infected in the following seven days (then it does close).
Of the 99,459 positives detected in recent days among personnel linked to educational centers, 88,569 are students, 10,846 are teachers or administrative personnel and 44 are external. However, and due to the new protocol, there are only 158 groups completely confined, 0.22% of the total. As for entire centers, there are six closed due to outbreaks: the Tuixent – ZER Urgellet school in Josa i Tuixén (Alt Urgell), the La Mainada nursery school, in Menàrguens (Noguera); The Falguereta of Fogars de la Selva (Selva); Pam i Pipa de Santpedor (Bages); Casamada de Castellar del Vallès (Vallès Occidental) and Mafalda de Reus (Baix Camp).
Among the reasons for the explosion of cases, in addition to the omicron variant and less vaccination at these ages, the Generalitat has added the fact that in Catalonia, unlike other autonomous communities, an antigen test is offered to all those schoolchildren who share a class with one who has tested positive. According to the Secretary of Public Health, Carmen Cabezas, in the first days of school after Christmas, from January 10 to 18, 160,522 antigen tests have been carried out on students in pharmacies, which has brought out a total of 9,303 positives, 5.8% of the total.
In Primary Care, where the antigens are made to Early Childhood Education students, the result has been 19,796 tests, of which 2,418 have been positive, 12.2%.
Despite criticism from school directors, who have been overwhelmed by the management of infections and antigen tests in their centers, the Department of Health has once again defended this protocol. Minister Josep Maria Argimon recalled that with the old protocol, which sent the entire class home if there was a positive, today there would be more than 600,000 students in isolation, “with a complicated problem of conciliation”.
Currently, the Generalitat offers an antigen test in a pharmacy to students who share a class with someone who has tested positive. In this sense, they have announced a new change in protocol, the umpteenth since the course was resumed: the test can be done over the next seven days – it was four days before – and only one will be offered (not one per each positive that comes out in the group).