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For the second consecutive day, primary and secondary schools in Catalonia have been disrupted by the strike called by the unions, to affect six days in total this March as a response to - among other reasons - the modification of the annual school calendar and the court ruling that obliges schools to teach 25% of their classes in Spanish. The strike, far from being resolved, has deepened, and it does not seem that the Catalan ministry of education and the unions who called the stoppage are maintaining a dialogue that suggests a solution is imminent. Perhaps this is why the unions have already raised the stakes regarding their preferred interlocutor for discussing their demands and have called for the direct mediation of president Pere Aragonès, who belongs to the same party as minister Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray, who was blocked by a picket line on Wednesday from attending the official opening of the Saló de l'Ensenyament, the education fair.

We have already said it on more than one occasion: the education ministry has not had the courage to negotiate an agreement with the unions, and it may end up imposing one, but will have to accept a huge political cost if it does so. The calendar of the annual school year is a shared priority for large sections of society, but it is by no means an urgency. It is not a measure that alone solves the problems that education has been suffering from and someone tried to be clever at a time when teacher exhaustion is high and the whole educational community is still under the after-effects of the pandemic, which had a huge impact on teachers and since March 2020 has been thoroughly disruptive - of school protocols, face-to-face classes, student attendance, causing temporary closures of whole classes, teacher layoffs due to coronavirus and a hitherto-unknown mental fatigue.

All in all, the administration has not been sensitive enough, and has conveyed the appearance that none of this had happened and the 2022-2023 academic year was just another school year. The slightest contact with the teachers would have led to the recommendation to let a year go by in which things could slowly return to their routine, negotiate a change of calendar with less haste and impose it in the 2023-2024 year. It was almost common sense, just as it is not the time to address some unpopular measure with the healthcare professions, who have also been squeezed completely dry due to Covid-19. All this, in politics, has to be well-known and what you can't do is force the negotiation of the calendar to the limit and say at the last minute that any change will be impossible.

Clearly there is room for agreement, as the second wave of strike days will be in the last week of March and there is still time before that. The most worrying thing is that if there is no significant change in the position by the administration, the strike could be deepened by new mobilizations at a time as complicated as the end of the school year. All this at a time when many teachers are openly talking about the need to reduce stress and of their concern for the mental health of their students, a situation unknown and completely new to teachers and where the tools for analysis and response are lacking. In short: less talk about dialogue and much more actual dialogue. That is what is needed.