Education Minister Nicolás Trotta said Tuesday that he is targeting March 1 for a full return of face-to-face classes at schools in 17 provinces in Argentina.
The head of the education portfolio predicted that there would be a "massive return" of students to schools around then, saying the government expected the epidemiological situation to be in a positive position after the summer.
"It is essential that in 2021 presentiality [i.e. face-to-face classes] is the rule," said the official.
"We have been planning a massive return to classrooms on March 1 in 17 provinces. In other jurisdictions in February – it is essential that in 2021 presence is the rule," Trotta told Canal 10 in Córdoba.
Trotta said that half of Argentina's provinces “have experience in [holding] face-to-face classes this year,” a reference to the so-called "bubble" approach that sees students split into limited groups for classes not in enclosed spaces.
“We expect that by March, Argentina will be in a similar situation to how the northern hemisphere was in the month of September, after the summer, when the classes began," he told the outlet, saying that such a situation would allow for a "massive return" of face-to-face classes with teachers.
In addition, the minister stressed that the government would would prioritise teachers in the first stage of its mass vaccination programme, whenever a coronavirus vaccine is ready and approved by the relevant health authorities. "It is another of the elements that allows us to project an important return in the number of students in the classroom in March, and at all levels," said Trotta.
The official clarified that preventative measures against Covid-19 would remain in place, however. ""We will have to continue supporting the use of masks, hygiene and distancing in schools," he added.
Trotta went on to hail "the commitment of teachers who took on the challenge of continuing to educate" despite the challenges of the pandemic.
The minister said that he hoped Argentine educational institutions and students would recover a sense of the normality that existed before the virus crisis and stressed that it was "fundamental" for students to use the next academic year to resume their "pending" studies from 2020.
"No-one learns the same at home as they do in school," he stressed.