As is widely known, the COVID-19 pandemic has its origin in the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Only a few months passed after the appearance of the first infected in Wuhan (China), so that at the beginning of 2020 the genetic sequence of the virus was established and with it a significant number of investigations emerged aimed at establishing the mechanism used by the virus to infect humans.
Today we know that the fundamental key to the infection mechanism lies in the S protein that makes up the spicules of the coronavirus and that is recognized by the ECA2 receptor present in our cells, in this way the virus enters our body and begins a complex replication process . Understanding all of these mechanisms dazzles human intelligence and is essential to get to the point where we find ourselves today with the production and application of various vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Janssen, AstraZeneca, and Sputnik V.
From the beginning of the pandemic, the hope was to obtain the vaccines that would contribute to solving the health crisis, slowly recovering normality in social life. Despite the fact that this moment seems to be arriving in Colombia, in addition to there being several questions about the effectiveness and forcefulness of the National Vaccination Plan, the question arises about the population groups that were selected in each of the proposed phases.
The effective implementation of the National Vaccination Plan would seem to open the hope to return to the presence in the educational centers of the country, since clearly the pandemic has begun to take its effects on the training of children and young people.
To that extent and in various scenarios, the possibility of implementing a model of presence with alternation has been raised that allows students in basic and secondary education to return gradually and safely to educational institutions. In Bogotá, for example, since February 15, 2021, alternation plans began to be enabled in public and private schools, as well as in higher education. However, despite the long-awaited start of vaccination, the uncertainty about returning to the classroom and the impact it may have on teachers, students and their families is wide. The Colombian Federation of Educators (FECODE) and the District Association of Education Workers (ADE) have repeatedly expressed their rejection of returning to classes in person, due to the risk it implies for the health and lives of the students.
The executive director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, requested in an official statement in December 2020, the governments of the countries, to prioritize teachers in the vaccination process against COVID-19, as this can help protect them against the virus It will allow them to teach in person and will ultimately serve to keep educational institutions open. Countries like Chile have already started their vaccination processes in teachers over 60 years of age.
In Colombia, the vaccination process has begun so far, on February 16 barely 50,000 doses of vaccines arrived for 25,000 citizens. The Vaccination Plan includes five prioritization phases and the teachers of basic and secondary education are in the third, while the university professors are not prioritized in any, which is striking because, like all teachers, in an eventual return to the presence would be permanently exposed to school spaces with a significant flow of people and a good part of the university teaching union is outside the ages that have been prioritized in the first phases. In this sense, what will happen to university professors who have to go back to work and are not vaccinated?
There are no certainties about the course of the process or about the time it will take to cover the first phase, much less reach herd immunity. Meanwhile, educational processes will continue to depend on the possibilities of connectivity, the particular conditions of educational institutions, and the digital and technological resources that students and their families have access to for their training processes.
* Rector, National Pedagogical University