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More than 30 million students begin virtual classes in Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico — More than 30 million students across the country started their first day of classes Monday. Due to Covid, classes in Mexico are virtual. The Secretary of Public Education, Esteban Moctezuma Barragán, made the announcement earlier in the month, explaining then that classes across Mexico would be held on designated television channels.

The Back to Classes Learn at Home distance learning model for the 2020-2021 school cycle began throughout the country Monday after the government of Mexico said they would will not allow face-to-face classes this year.

Around 30 million students from the National Educational System resumed school activities from their homes via television since only 56 percent of households have Internet access, according to government statistics.

Since the law requires that all Mexican children receive a public education, the government has decided that the best way to do it is through television, given that 93 percent of homes have one.

The government of Mexico has worked on agreements with different television channels to transmit content for different grades at different times. The government will also use radio programs to reach children who are without television or internet, most of whom, according to the government, live in remote indigenous communities.

“There is no precedent for something so big,” said Rodolfo Lara Ponte, who runs the radio education program during the pandemic.

“We have planned to have 640 programs in 18 radio stations in 15 states of the country,” he said, adding that many are recorded in indigenous languages exclusive to different regions.

For now, radio and television programs will run until December, but everything is subject to change depending on how the pandemic unfolds over the next few months.

Government officials who oversee the program uniformly say the goal is to get the kids back in the classroom as soon as possible, but for now, they say they are doing the best they can.

“It was a difficult decision not to reopen the schools,” said María Meléndez, director of Curricular Development at the secretariat. “But bringing classes to radio and television means not letting the educational gap widen.”

The Ministry of Education says that for the moment they will not evaluate the progress of students, not only because it is difficult to do, but because of the additional stress that it could generate for students.

Meanwhile, the burden on parents, already high during any normal school year, will increase dramatically this year. If children are to make progress, parents at home will be the main driving force.