The Supreme Court says it will settle the education row between the Buenos Aires City government and the national government over President Alberto Fernández’s attempt to ban in-person classes at schools in the capital for two weeks.
Argentina’s highest tribunal declared itself “competent” to hear the case, which was brought by City Hall challenging parts of last week’s presidential decree of necessity and urgency (DNU) as unconstitutional.
The decision means the appeal it falls within the Supreme Court’s remit. It also casts doubt over the validity of a ruling on Sunday by a City appeals court that said City Hall had the autonomy to decide whether in-person classes should go ahead.
"In accordance with what was ruled by the Attorney General, this case falls within the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation ... the action filed will be substantiated through the summary process," wrote Supreme Court justices Carlos Rosenkrantz, Juan Carlos Maqueda, Ricardo Lorenzetti and Horacio Rosatti in their ruling. The fifth member of the court, Elena Highton de Nolasco, opted to dissent.
The court said it had notified the parties of the decision and issued an official letter to the Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero notifying him. The government now has five days to present its case before the justices. Reports in local outlets on Monday said a ruling could be issued this week, though there is no set deadline in place for a decision.
Despite the brewing row over in-person classes, schools in the capital did welcome students on Monday, after Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta announced late Sunday he would adhere to the ruling by the Chamber of Appeals in Administrative, Tax and Consumer Relations in Buenos Aires, and keep them open.
Last Wednesday, Fernández announced a tightening of coronavirus restrictions to stem a surge in Covid-19 cases, especially in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area (AMBA), extending a nighttime curfew and shuttering schools in the region for 15 days until the end of April.
Argentina is experiencing a surge in Covid-19 infections, with the country's health system finds itself coming under increasing strain.
Bonus for health workers
On Monday, President Fernández announced a bonus of 6,500 pesos for health workers for three months to compensate them for "the greatest effort" that the second wave of Covid-19 will demand from them.
"Today we are announcing an increase in beds, the construction of more hospitals and we also announce that for the next three months health personnel are going to get the sum of 6,500 pesos per month to their income,” he said, describing it as “a bonus that will help them cope in the in the coming months.”
Fernández said that 740,000 people who work in the health system would receive the bonus.