Scarcity of resources makes it difficult to return to in-person classes

Classroom classes have been suspended at state and federal public universities in Bahia since March 2020, the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic. Currently working with remote classes, the University of the State of Bahia (UNEB) has no forecast of returning to the classroom.

To understand the scenario, the difficulties, the challenges of remote teaching and the resumption of in-person classes, we spoke with Ronalda Barreto Silva, a professor at UNEB and general coordinator of the Association of Teachers of the State University of Bahia (ADUNEB).

“We have not reached the green range of risk of contamination of covid-19, we need to advance in vaccination, carry out extensive testing, establish the environmental conditions for this, the logistics of student displacement and epidemiological surveillance”, says Ronalda. In addition to sanitary measures, she points out the concern with the scarcity of financial resources for the resumption of in-person classes. Check out the interview:

Brasil de Fato Bahia: Is there any forecast for the return of on-site classes and hybrid phase at state universities?
Ronalda Barreto Silva: Most public universities have decided to maintain teaching through technological mediation throughout this year of 2021. We have no forecast of resumption of on-site or even hybrid teaching. The pandemic situation seemed to improve, however, we have the presence of two extremely transmissible variants: the delta (Indian) and the beta (African).

In several countries, measures to combat the pandemic were made more flexible due to the advance of vaccination and they are now falling back due to the advance of these variants. In Brazil, the situation is still initial in relation to these variants, however, there is already community transmission and heading towards the peak. In other words, the situation is very insecure for us to affirm the possibility of resuming in-person classes.

Brasil de Fato Bahia: Does the UNEB faculty assess that it is possible to safely return to face-to-face classes even in the hybrid phase (remote and face-to-face classes divided into the week)?
Ronalda Barreto Silva: Our assessment is that there is no security to resume classroom classes for several reasons: we have not reached the green range of risk of contamination of covid-19, we need to advance in vaccination, carry out extensive testing, establish the environmental conditions for this, the logistics of displacement of students and epidemiological surveillance.

We need large, ventilated rooms, hygienic conditions, distribution of quality masks and educational processes to change the community’s habits. Universities are not being prepared for safe face-to-face return. One problem faced is scarcity of financial resources. There was no investment for the remote model, nor is there any for the resumption of the face-to-face model. These are aspects that concern us.

Brasil de Fato Bahia: What have been the difficulties observed in remote education?
Ronalda Barreto Silva: The biggest difficulty is the inclusion of all students, especially those in rural areas, where there is no internet. The number of students who cannot afford to acquire connectivity is high. Above all, our Quilombola and Indigenous students find it difficult to follow this type of teaching.

Brasil de Fato Bahia: What difficulties have been faced since before the pandemic and are they continuing?
Ronalda Barreto Silva: Scarcity of financial resources, vacancies not filled with public examinations, that is, lack of personnel to work and violation of the rights of teachers and technical-administrative staff.

In your opinion, what will be the challenges for the functioning of universities in the post-pandemic?
Establish sanitary conditions that, we imagine, will be permanent and rethink teaching methods and techniques, combining a face-to-face model with the use of information and communication technologies in a broader way.

These are challenges, including for the organization of workers and that can even contribute to a better performance of the university and unions.

Source: BoF Bahia

Edition: Elen Carvalho

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