OVIEDO, Spain 

As Spain’s education minister announced the country’s plans to get students back to school in September, the Health Ministry reported 427 more COVID-19 cases on Thursday.

On Wednesday alone, 156 new cases were diagnosed — down slightly from Tuesday but approximately double that of Monday. In total, the country has now confirmed 242,707 cases.

The country’s death toll has not been properly updated in weeks. The total has moved up by just three to reach 27,136 over the past seven days, although the Health Ministry reported that 32 people have died during the last week.

Fernando Simon, Spain´s chief epidemiologist, said this week the data should be fixed “soon”.

Spanish Education Minister Isabel Celaa also outlined the government’s much-anticipated plan for the upcoming school year.

She said in a press conference all students and teachers will have to physically return to the classroom in September.

“Online classes cannot substitute presential learning,” she said.

Classrooms will be limited to 20 students, although the plan says 15 is ideal. Students in pre-school to grade four will not have to wear masks or maintain physical distance, but they will be isolated from older students.

Children in grade five or above will have to wear masks in any situation in which individuals are less than 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) apart.

Contingency plans will exist in case of a second wave of infections, which would prioritize keeping students under 14-years-old in school.

According to Celaa, Spain’s all regional leaders agreed with the plan, except for those from Madrid and the Basque Country.

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