Back to school: Cuba's school year amid COVID-19
By Luis Chirino

Cuban students welcomed the "back to school" announcement last September to resume and conclude the 2020 school year interrupted by COVID-19. But the in-person learning process – albeit under strict protection measures – was again cut short after a new and stronger wave of the virus hit the country in January this year.

Distance learning has been the best alternative, such as TV lessons and online services. An island-wide joint initiative by the ministries of education, telecommunications and television offers educational programs on a daily basis for all education levels, including preschool children.

"These TV programs have been very useful for me to keep educating my daughter at home while her school is closed," said Arlenys Marino, mother of a preschool student.

The televised lessons were made possible thanks to the existence for a long time now of two channels to educate the Cuban audience on several issues of national and international interest, so they are now serving for instruction purposes.

Although the island came into the digital world quite late due to technical limitations, cell phone and personal computer applications recently developed here allow Cuban university students to keep attending school online. 

"We can now resume our school year virtually through online platforms. It's free of charge for us to download books, materials and follow our teachers' instructions. I think it's something very useful," said Carlos Santos, a law student.

In order to take advantage of this time of inactivity caused by the pandemic, many schools have been submitted to repairs and remodeling in order to offer a more comfortable stay for students and professors once in-person attendance takes place again.

Educational authorities have said that the current school year will not be lost or repeated even though students need more instruction. However, they acknowledge that much depends on controlling the pandemic.

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