Mexican Parents Concerned About Back-to-SchoolBy Alfonso Núñez | Thu, 10/28/2021 - 19:29
Despite a nation-wide drop in COVID-19 cases and most Mexican states operating under “green-light” health protocols, parents of Mexico’s children remain wary of sending their children back to school.
The Ministry of Public Education (SEP) announced that under “green-light,” the state of COVID-19 risk most Mexican states now find themselves in, classrooms could open for in-person learning once more. After months of online-learning, 54 percent of students have returned to in-person classes across Mexican schools. Currently, three different models are offered for students: remotely, in-person or a hybrid of the two. Head of SEP Delfina Gómez announced plans for all students to return to in-person classes and a pre-pandemic schedule.
But classrooms might count with more than a few empty seats as Mexico lags behind global vaccination campaigns for the world’s youth and many parents do not feel safe sending their children to in-person classes. Mexican Health Minister Jorge Alcocer has made clear that the country lacks plans to expand vaccination campaigns for minors any further than the recently initiated vaccination of children aged 12 to 18 with preexisting health conditions.
Alcolcer believes the vaccine could have a “limiting” effect impacting the natural development of children’s immune systems. During an appearance with the lower floor of Congress last Tuesday, Alcolcer said he would not even vaccinate his own grandchildren. “Children have an amazing immune system compared to later phases of…their life,” Alcolcer said, calling the vaccination a completely inorganic structure which hindered the “learning” of a minor’s immune system.
Although more than 70 million Mexicans have received at least one dosage of their COVID-19 vaccination, over 4,000 new COVID-19 cases and 392 deaths were reported on the same day as Alcolcer’s Congress appearance. Parents seeing these numbers are concerned about what their children could contract in a school playground or classroom as social distancing and mask wearing rules can only be so successful with children. Safety supplies such as hand gel and face masks are not always covered by the schools, providing families with additional costs in their back-to-school shopping list. And while numbers are currently low, upcoming seasonal holidays could give way for infections to rise across the nation once more.
The issue of youth vaccination in Mexico has attracted worldwide attention, specially as the vaccine has been approved for younger and younger age groups and other country’s with a similar vaccination rate have begun administering the vaccine to their youth. As children continue returning to school without being vaccinated, parent’s concerns might result in a lowering of the age requirement to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.