Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta says that in-person classes at schools in the capital will restart this Monday, when the government-imposed nine-day lockdown ends.
The opposition leader said at a press conference that initially classes would only restart at primary and kindergarten levels, with secondary or high schools set to continue with a mix of in-person classes, online tuition and remote learning for the time being.
City Hall has closely followed the evolution of coronavirus indicators in recent days and despite consecutive days of high numbers, the mayor has decided that children can return to classrooms in line with his administration's priorities.
"We said that schools were going to be the last to close and the first to open and we are going to comply with our promise," said Rodríguez Larreta, underlining that education is "the highest priority" for his administration.
The decision will likely raise tensions once again with the national government, which sought in April to shutter schools and move all year groups onto remote virtual learning. Rodríguez Larreta went to the Supreme Court and successfully challenged the presidential decree imposing those measures, winning a ruling that endorsed City Hall’s right to decide autonomously on the continuation of classes.
Last week, Rodríguez Larreta adhered to the national government’s imposition of a strict nine-day lockdown to tackle the recent surge in cases. City Hall shuttered schools for May 26, 27 and 28, with not even remote learning taken place. The opposition leader has promised that those three days will be made up at the end of term by extending the school year.
Speaking earlier on Friday, Buenos Aires City Health Minister Fernán Quirós said that officials would “wait for today’s data” before making up their mind.
“School is always the last thing to close and the first thing to open” for City Hall, added the official, who said that “protocols are followed very well” in schools.
The City mayor also announced that bars and restaurants will be able to re-open, with customers seated outside at tables with a maximum of four or a family group until 7pm, starting Monday. Other commercial shops can also re-open until 7pm, while industry and construction workers can also return to work.