School shuts in Spain's Basque Country after teachers test COVID-19 positive

MADRID (Reuters) – Authorities in Spain’s Basque Country region said on Thursday they had shut down a primary school after several teachers tested positive for COVID-19, the first to be closed entirely in the week classrooms reopened across the country.

Students have begun to return to school after a six-month shutdown, prompting feelings of relief but also concerns of further infection in the country that already has the most cases in Western Europe.

Downplaying criticism that health and safety plans were left to the last minute, Education Minister Isabel Celaa said the reopening had gone very well, with cases detected only in a few dozen places.

“We have 28,600 schools…and as of yesterday we had incidents in 53,” she told state broadcaster TVE. “This means that school management and administrative staff have done a spectacular job.”

A handful of individual classes had been sent home and small groups of teachers quarantined earlier this week, but the Zaldibar primary school in the Basque Country was closed entirely.

A spokeswoman for the regional government could not confirm how many teachers had tested positive or for how long they expected the school to remain closed. All staff will be tested.

“For the time being, the epidemiological study seems to indicate that the infections have occurred outside the school context,” the regional government said in a statement.

The latest official data show Spain has reported 543,379 cases since the onset of the pandemic, with 50,952 in the past seven days. Twelve deaths were reported on Wednesday, bringing the total up to 29,628.

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