COVID-19 must be viewed as an occupational disease

The Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE) has asked the Mexican Ministry of Education to ensure that COVID-19 is considered an occupational disease. This is just a measure to facilitate a safe return to current teaching and learning.

The SNTE has set out the conditions it believes are essential for the safe reopening of schools. On December 15, Alfonso Cepeda Salas, Secretary General of the SNTE, met with the Mexican Minister of Education, Esteban Moctezuma Barragán, to demand that:

  • The return to the classroom may "only take place when the epidemiological traffic light is and remains green".
  • Teaching and educational support staff must be seen as a priority group for upcoming vaccinations.
  • Medical care and medication must be guaranteed.
  • Employees over the age of 60 with diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer or lupus, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women, must be exempted from the current training.

COVID-19 prevention methods

Cepeda Salas also warned that all schools must be disinfected and provided with adequate drinking water, soap and ventilation before and during school hours. The schools must also be permanently supplied with cleaning agents.

He suggested reducing the school day and the number of students per group. This would help maintain a safe distance between learners and between learners and the teacher, taking into account space in the classrooms. The rotation of students in classroom courses needs to be organized, he said.

The SNTE leader also insisted that parents must be involved in the detection and treatment of possible cases of coronavirus.

He added that SNTE would disseminate the ministry-sponsored health and hygiene practices, particularly the use of face masks, among its members.

Social dialogue is crucial

Cepeda Salas and Moctezuma Barragán concluded the meeting by agreeing that the Ministry and the Education Union will have a close dialogue and collaboration to return to class safely as the health of the educational community is a priority.

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