The Government of the Canary Islands, through the Ministry of Education, Vocational Training, Physical Activity and Sports, has urgently decreed the suspension of teaching and extracurricular activities this Wednesday, October 11 and Friday, October 13 in non-university educational centres, due to the pre-alert situation for high temperatures. The measure affects students and all staff at public, subsidised and private centres on Wednesday and Friday of this week because of the sustained extreme heat. The suspension does not affect university classes.

The decision comes after several educational centres reported incidents of fainting and instances of heat stroke among some students, while the education department have been wrangling over whether it was safe to continue classes as normal in these conditions. Poli Suárez, the regional Minister of Education, cited “responsibility” as the key reason for the move, despite it having been ruled out only yesterday.

As Thursday is a national holiday that means a long weekend for many and a return to classes next week.

Risk of Forest Fires

The Calima haze and high temperatures in municipalities across Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Tenerife and La Gomera, have led to health risk warnings.  The Minister of Education, Vocational Training, Physical Activity and Sports , Poli Suárez , said today that the decision to suspend classes has also been taken, taking into account the maximum alert due to the risk of forest fires in El Hierro, La Gomera, La Palma, Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

Suárez has declared the situation “unsustainable” in many schools in the Canary Islands, and has indicated that he has received messages and calls from directors and officials of parents’ associations, as well as unions, with whom he has also spoken before taking the decision.

Teaching classes electronically
He has insisted on the need to have an action protocol for upcoming situations of high temperatures, and given the possibility of teaching classes electronically, he has stated that it is currently “complicated.”

The minister has also spoken about educational infrastructures, and has reiterated that there has been a paralysis in their renewal, so that the majority do not meet the conditions to tackle situations of high temperatures.

In two months “we cannot solve” the problem of abandonment of “many legislatures ,” added the counsellor, who added that there are many needs such as expansion of centres that are now “many years old and in poor condition” a situation he described as “regrettable”.

The Minister of Education revealed plans to develop a protocol for dealing with future episodes of high temperatures. The protocol is expected to be available within days or the coming weeks.

Suárez spoke about the existing infrastructure in educational settings, stating that most do not meet the required conditions to cope with high-temperature situations. He also mentioned that there has been a halt in the renewal of educational infrastructures.

Suárez suggested that a collaborative effort between central and regional administrations, in conjunction with local governments, is needed to prioritise educational infrastructure.



Current Weather Conditions

The Spanish State Meteorological Agency (AEMET) has forecasted that maximum temperatures will again exceed 34º C, with minimum temperatures barely dropping below 24º. The Health Department risk warnings due to high temperatures have been issued in several municipalities across Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, and La Gomera.

For residents and schools, the situation remains challenging as authorities work on longer-term solutions.