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Private schools in Yucatán buckle under pressure from COVID-19

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Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
All classrooms in Yucatán have remained closed since last March. Photo: File

The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout have forced at least 40 private schools in Yucatán to permanently shut down.

Mexico’s association of private schools has expressed grave concern over the situation and has warned about an educational gap that will result from the closures. 

Private schools in Mexico are plentiful and attended by students from across socio-economic classes, with tuitions ranging from 500 pesos a month to over 20,000. Public education is a legal right in Mexico, but limited accessibility and overcrowding lead many students and their parents to opt for private institutions. 

Public and private schools in Yucatán were forced to close their doors to students last March when state authorities declared the beginning of strict measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. Since then, all classes at all education levels have been delivered online and through the use of public television broadcasts. 

Despite the relative success of distance education programs, educators are increasingly concerned over the negative side effects of social distancing on educational performance and students’ ability to cope emotionally with prolonged periods of confinement indoors. 

As of yet, it still is not known if teachers at private institutions in Yucatán will receive vaccines within the same time frame as their colleagues in the private sector. 

Yucatán’s neighboring state of Campeche has already begun a pilot program to inoculate teachers and school administrators against COVID-19. Of the over 20,000 promised doses, only 12,000 were actually delivered by the Mexican government, raising questions over corruption and vaccine sales.

In order to prepare for a return to in-classroom learning, private schools have requested information from state and federal authorities regarding protocols, but no plans have been detailed.

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