SANTIAGO – Some 400,000 students will resume classes on Monday after the Feb. 27 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated portions of central and southern Chile, Education Minister Joaquin Lavin said.
“Monday is the true second beginning of the school year. In the case of Maule and Bio Bio it’s the most difficult situation, and starting on Tuesday we will have a more complex problem, which is in the three weeks that remain until the deadline getting the children (into school) in the most affected zones,” Lavin said during a visit Saturday to Santiago’s Barros Arana Institute.
President Sebastian Piñera on March 13 set a period of two months within which to reestablish normality in the areas of health care, education and road transport after the earthquake.
He gave the Education Ministry a term of 45 days to get classes started for the roughly 1.2 million children who have still not started their school year.
The school that Lavin visited has about 1,700 students, of whom 500 are boarded there.
After the quake, 22 classrooms were unusable and so double-days will be worked to get them into shape, as announced by principal Juan Yañez.
With just over three weeks left to meet the presidential deadline of April 26, there are 550,000 students who still have no classes to attend, and of them 353,000 are in the Bio Bio region and 163,000 in Maule.
Starting on Monday, the municipalities will have available to them the 10.7 billion pesos (nearly $20.4 billion) approved in the emergency plan to repair the schools, Lavin said.
“The municipalities will have a maximum period of three weeks to make the repairs and thus allow the entry of the students on April 26,” the education minister said.