Wiping away dust from bookshelves and mopping grimy floors, teachers and parents across Mexico are sprucing up vandalised schools ahead of the nationwide reopening on June 7.
Mexico has kept state schools shut since March 2020, when students and teachers abandoned them after the coronavirus pandemic triggered the first nationwide lockdown.
Since then, between 40% to 50% of all Mexican schools have reported vandalism or theft, according to trade union officials.
“We come to support the school so that everything is clean for the return of children to classes,” said Rosa Miron, one of several mothers cleaning a school in Mexico City.
Alfonso Cepeda Salas, secretary general of the National Educational Workers Syndicate trade union, or SNTE, told newspaper Excelsior last week that power lines, computers, screens, and even doors to toilets have been stolen.
While Mexico has taken a cautious approach to reopening schools, the country has otherwise had a very liberal policy during the pandemic, including not requiring proof of a negative coronavirus test results before entering the country.
“I feel it’s risky, but if (the children) don’t come back, I don’t know what will happen,” said Eduardo Aviles, a father of one of the students at a school in the capital.
Mexico is now registering its lowest daily increases in new coronavirus deaths from the pandemic in over a year, according to government data.
Still, reopening efforts suffered a setback at the weekend, with authorities in the states of Campeche and Nayarit suspending plans to reopen schools due to an uptick in infections.