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Brazil: teachers protest against drive to reopen schools

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LAB received this open letter from the Teachers of the EEB (State Basic Education School) Padre Anchieta,  Florianópolis, to  School Community, March 2021.

Main image: face-to-face teaching allowed in São Francisco do Sul, Santa Catarina, following recommendation by the Ministry – Phooto: Divulgacão/O Trentino/ND


Reopening schools will mean more infections

We, teachers at EEB Padre Anchieta, Florianópolis, are concerned with the health situation in Brazil and, especially within the city of Florianópolis, due to the Covid 19 pandemic and with the orders issued by the government of the Santa Catarina for the return of classes.

Brazil presents alarming rates of confirmed cases: we have reached a total of 9,599,565 people infected, with the number of deaths exceeding 233,520. In the city of Florianópolis,  data released on February 10, 2021 is also alarming: we have 52,679 cases of infection with the new coronavirus and we have reached 407 deaths. We are in a very dangerous situation!

Families and health workers pray outside a hospital in Santa Catarina where Covid infections are rampant

We know that public hospitals are overcrowded with a shortage of beds. Unfortunately there is no structure in place to find beds for citizens who fall ill. The occupancy rate of hospitals has reached 88.03%. 90.20% of adult beds, 50% of pediatric and 97.14% of neonatal beds are occupied! These figures underline the fact that coronavirus affects both adults and children.

Appeal by teacher Sinivaldo Schafer.
His words are translated at the foot of this article

It is worth remembering that it is the obligation of the State to guarantee quality health and education for its population !

To this we must add that the government’s actions, through the Secretariat of Education of Santa Catarina, forcing the return of school activities without ensuring collective vaccination of the whole school community (students, servers, teachers, kitchen workers, security and cleaning) will inevitably lead to infections and fatalities reaching even higher numbers. We have seen in the last few months an alarming increase in the transmission of coronavirus in the State of Amazonas, specifically in the capital Manaus, as has been widely reported by the mainstream media.

This example is important because it demonstrates that wearing a mask and gel as protective measures are not enough to combat contamination. The only effective way to fight the coronavirus is by social distancing and vaccination of all citizens!

‘The greatest calamity in our history. Forum for Health, for Life and for Democracy. 2 March on YouTube and TV Abrasco’

Lives matter!

We, teachers, have the responsibility to alert the school community to the danger of a return to school activities without vaccination! Lives matter! The irresponsibility of returning to school activities, whether in the the classroom or in a hybrid mix of classroom time and home schooling, without collective vaccination of the whole school community will increase the number of infections and lives could be lost!

It is essential to be alert to the dangers of a project to return to classes, as it does not guarantee the safety of citizens.

There are various risks of collective infection, stemming from inefficient public transport and the realities of school and classroom buildings. The official contingency plan (Plancon-Edu / Covid-19)  drawn up by the government of the State of Santa Catarina does not provide adequate sanitary facilities  to carry out teaching work safely and effectively. Schools have not received enough masks and alcohol gel to provide palliative protection. The necessary materials are not available to all.

Teachers at the EEB Padre Ancieta school, Florianóplis, in happier times

We cannot ensure a safe return to the classroom

In addition, the structures of the classrooms, dining facilities and corridors present unsanitary conditions, even for a reduced number of students. Rooms lack windows with large openings, have no fans and not enough space to implement the recommended social distancing. Also we don’t have enough staff to cover the numerous tasks related to health and safety measures which are required by the health supervisory boards and PLANCON.

But, above all, we do not have the minimum conditions to guarantee a safe return to school.


A video appeal by teacher Sinivaldo Schafer (see original video, in Portuguese, above), translated for LAB by Tom Gatehouse:

Good evening, friends, colleagues and teachers. I’m recording this video to express my indignation regarding what’s happening at the moment in our state of Santa Catarina in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic and the mess we’re in. Indignation, because of the decision by the state governor Carlos Moisés, his secretary for education [Luiz Fernando] Vampiro and the State Public Prosecutor’s Office to keep state schools open as an essential service.

I don’t know what they’re thinking. Don’t they watch television, use social networks, or listen to the news? I honestly don’t understand how they can keep students in classrooms – this is what I’m talking about, not online classes. We want to work online. Why? For our safety. For the lives of our students. For our lives, and those of our family members, our loved ones. I keep asking myself why the state government insists on maintaining face-to-face classes as an essential activity.

In stating that schools will be the last thing to close and the first to open, the State Public Prosecutor has, unfortunately, adopted a position which is mistaken. It’s clear their children don’t attend state schools, that’s why they’ve adopted this position.

Today I received a worrying piece of news, in that my daughter, who lives with her mother and her uncle, has tested positive for Covid, and for the last two or three days has been taking medication she got on the SUS [Brazil’s public health system]. She was unable to speak to me because her vocal apparatus has been badly affected, so she can only communicate via text message.

We’re constantly hearing that someone we know has been affected by this violent, aggressive disease. It is turning Santa Catarina into another Amazonas; we’re at where Amazonas was just a few months ago.

The mayor of Chapecó has closed the state schools but has allowed private schools to carry on as normal. This is incomprehensible, inadmissible, inconceivable. In other words, once again the state government and some local mayors are giving in to private enterprise. Business associations are piling pressure on the state government to keep things running as normal, to avoid declaring lockdown. So the government persists with this half-arsed lockdown which doesn’t work.

We’re going to be stuck in a state of constant opening up and then locking down again. Meanwhile, people think everything’s fine. They’re going back to the beaches, back to the shopping centres, back to their businesses, but we will pay the price for this, we already are. This is nothing more than the consequence of what the government has been encouraging.

So mothers, fathers – don’t send your kids to school, unless you want to be next in line for the intensive care ward. It could be your son. It could be my daughter, who is on medication. At the moment it’s affecting her throat, but it could spread to her lungs, and she suffers from chronic bronchitis. I don’t know. I’m praying that doesn’t happen to her, or to anyone else.

I’m going to do my duty, but you have to do yours. Lives matter. Learning can be recovered; lives can’t.

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