Portugal: ‘Nobody is on holiday’ – Education minister

Portugal’s minister of education, Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, warned on Friday that “no one is on vacation” with the suspension of teaching activities due to the new coronavirus, and teachers’ work must be adjusted and school “surveillance, maintenance and cleaning” must be maintaining.

“Nobody is on vacation and that is something very important to be able to say. It is important – and I have no doubt that this will happen – that the schools commit themselves so that in this difficult moment, of exception, teachers and non-teaching staff, can develop the work that can be done”, Tiago Brandão Rodrigues said at a press conference of more than one hour to present the extraordinary and urgent measures of response to the new coronavirus.

Regarding the suspension of all teaching and non-teaching activities in schools of all levels of education starting next Monday, the minister clarified that the work of teachers “can naturally be adjusted” and, although students are not in schools, non-teaching workers “are also working”.

Rodrigues also said that “schools will continue to have surveillance, maintenance, cleaning like all spaces”.

Asked about the continuity of meals during this period, especially for students benefiting from school social action, Tiago Brandão Rodrigues recalled that these students, in normal school breaks also have access to this response, which “ends up being a social response”.

“We will also work with the schools so that this social response to these students can continue, but we will also work with the social sector, if necessary, with the town halls. We are working with all the actors who traditionally work with the schools so that we can effectively give this response,” he said.

Regarding the school calendar, the schedule of exams and the end of the school year, he added that “there is nothing at this moment that leads us to think about changing it”.

“At this moment what is decreed is that there will be an interruption of the teaching and non-teaching activities for 15 days and then we will have Easter holidays for another 15 days. This is what we decree at this moment and this is all we decree at this moment”, he stressed.

Tiago Brandão Rodrigues said that, today, the last day of school before the interruption, “is the first day of work of this new situation where the students will receive an incentive from the teachers to continue working”.

At the press conference, where measures to mitigate the contagion from Covid-19 were listed, Mariana Vieira da Silva, the minister of state and presidency, also said that all these measures were taken “taking into account the financial impact”, and that “no additional amending budget is needed at the moment”.