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Millions of Venezuelan college students return to high school after COVID-19 closures

CARACAS, Oct 25 (Reuters) – Venezuela on Monday reopened public colleges and universities which serve greater than 11 million college students, after an extended closure amid the coronavirus pandemic, although some colleges remained closed for repairs or due to lack of employees.

President Nicolas Maduro’s authorities has delayed the restart of in-person lessons a number of instances, amid new peaks in infections and vaccination delays.

Youth Minister Mervin Maldonado stated 8.7 million youngsters would return to school rooms throughout the nation and a few 3.1 million college students would resume attending universities.

Children wearing uniforms of blue pants and purple shirts and carrying masks filed into colleges within the capital Caracas beginning at 7 a.m., as academics disbursed antibacterial gel.

One mom, Jenny Bejarano, stated she felt “a bit nervous” about potential coronavirus infections as she dropped off her son Fabian on the Venezuela Experimental Education Unit college in central Caracas.

“Our health system, it’s not a secret from anyone, is lacking,” stated Bejarano, a cardiorespiratory staffer at a non-public clinic. She stated there’s a deep shortage of medicines and provides.

But 8-year-old Fabian was excited to see his third-grade classmates, stated Bejarano, 47.

About 40% of the varsity’s 1,700 registered college students returned to lessons on Monday, stated group consultant Pedro Zambrano.

“For us the return to classes is important, but we have doubts,” stated Maria Clemente, an official on the Venezuelan Federation of Teachers, which has some 325,000 members.

Some academics will stay absent for concern of getting sick or due to low salaries, she stated, including that the utmost month-to-month wage for her members is 118 bolivares, equal to $27.

Down the street at Caracas’ oldest college, the Andres Bello Educational Complex, Director Wilmer Marcano presided over a largely empty constructing. Repairs will delay its restart for 2 weeks, he stated.

Those age 12 and up in Venezuela at the moment are eligible for his or her first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The authorities says 56% of the inhabitants of 28.7 million has been vaccinated, although the Pan-American Health Organization says simply 21.6% are totally protected.

Reporting by Vivian Sequera; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

A girl disinfects her hands at the school gate, on the first day back to in-person instruction after it was suspended due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Caracas, Venezuela October 25, 2021. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria

A school worker waits at the door to disinfect the hands of children who come to school, on the first day back to in-person instruction after it was suspended due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Caracas, Venezuela October 25, 2021. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria

A girl walkes down the school hall to go to the bathroom to wash her hands, on the first day back to in-person instruction after it was suspended due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Caracas, Venezuela October 25, 2021. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria