“Most schools will not have the necessary operational assistants” | Interview

Do you consider that using “hiring grants” to replace teachers who, because they belong to groups at risk of covid-19, are made redundant, will be feasible and solve the problem of schools?
Whatever the reasons teachers miss school, the substitution process is the same whether they are on sick leave or at home because they are at-risk groups. Whenever they are missing a teacher, and if the absence is for a probable period of another month, schools use the Ministry of Education recruitment grant which is available weekly, put the needs in this scholarship, downloading the document justifying the absence of the teacher and, doing so until Wednesday morning, the substitute teacher is placed the following Friday and then has 48 hours to present himself. Therefore, the process does not change anything, that is, for every absence justified by law for 30 days or more, the replacement process is the same and the reason for the absence is not relevant here .

But admitting, as Fenprof said a few days ago, that there will be 12,000 teachers with diseases that put them at risk and that there is a massive demand for medical certificates, will there be professionals in recruitment grants to respond to this situation?
This vision of the 12,000 teachers is the most pessimistic. There are a lot of teachers who are likely to belong to risk groups under the law, but I don’t want to believe that there are 12,000 of them who stop working for this reason. In any case, if for the moment 12,000 teachers stopped working, it would be very complicated for the educational process because there would be no teachers, especially in certain disciplinary groups, to replace them. Let me give you an example: during the previous academic year, in November, there were no teachers in some disciplinary groups of Greater Lisbon, namely in the discipline of geography where there was not even no teachers on the recruitment list. If that happened, many schools would be left without teachers.

Don’t you think it will?
I neither believe nor want to believe because it would be a very complicated collapse for schools. This is the most pessimistic view and I prefer the most optimistic view which leads me to believe that all teachers who can work will work. Even so, there are disciplinary groups and parts of the country where it is difficult to find replacements.

How do you assess the schools in terms of employees, taking into account the increase in tasks resulting from the need to clean the spaces? The ministry reported the hiring of 700 employees, but, according to what has been perceived, these hires will mainly serve to regularize the precarious situation of professionals already educated.
In most cases where schools have been or will be allowed to open competitions for operational assistants, those who will occupy this position are people who were already in schools with precarious contracts. What does it mean? If, at the start of the 2019/20 academic year, the first priority that we placed was already the lack of operational assistants, and the problem was transversal, this year, above all, the problem remains, and this time we will have need even more operational assistants, because we will constantly have to disinfect, sanitize, support the students, and for that, in general, a good part of the schools will not have the necessary operational assistants.

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An expectation has been created for you …
… The Minister has publicly stated that there is a scholarship for the recruitment of operational assistants for substitution processes. In fact, this is not a lie, but it is also not true, that is, this scholarship exists in schools that were authorized to open a competition for operational assistants. For them, the authorization that exists is that the people who appear on the list of people who have competed and who have not been placed to replace those who are missing can be contacted. But that’s all there is. And only for schools that have opened a competition. And for the schools which come under the communes, which are more than a third at the national level, there is no scholarship.

And can the revision of the ordinance establishing the ratio of operational assistants open the door to new hires?
It’s a long problem. The ordinance was changed a few years ago, but the truth is that schools haven’t benefited much from these changes. The latest change improved somewhat, ensuring that every kindergarten with a certain number of students could have an operational assistant. But the truth is that the ratios of the ratios seem to be made by people who only know the schools in Lisbon. I don’t want to be too unfair, but I’ll give you an example: if you have 400 1st cycle students (250 1st cycle students and 150 preschool students) all in the same building, according to the ordinance, I can have 12 operational assistants. But, if I have these same 400 students distributed in eight school centers, which is the case of my group, inside the country, I am entitled to the same number of assistants. The difference is that instead of one, I have eight schools to open and the hours of eight in the morning to six in the afternoon to stay open every day. Consequently, the ordinance will have to be modified, but it is necessary that the operated change foresees the specific reality of each school and each group.

Overall, would you say that the country can be relatively rested on the hope that schools can remain open in this context of a pandemic?
What I can tell you with certainty is that all the schools have prepared, complying with the DGS rules issued by the ministry, so that students return to school as safely as possible. Therefore, all parents and guardians can and should be at ease, especially because we are aware of the dimension of responsibility that falls to us. And, depending on our working conditions and the spaces available to us, we have adapted the schools as well as possible to accommodate students. Of course, the schools are all different: some have a lot of space and others not, in mine for example, it is not possible to have a room for each class, which forces us to walk with the students from room to room. But what we can say is that all the schools are organized so that parents are comfortable.

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