Tens of thousands of students were held back last year when some student occupations went on for more than half the school year.
Gabriel Gonzalez, president of the Student Center of the National Institute, one of Chile’s most symbolic public schools, admitted that extending school occupations would not be the right path to take.
"We understand today that we cannot occupy schools for seven months straight,” he said. “Many of our classmates are not ready to be held back a year and we have to look for other kinds of social action.”
This wave of school de-occupations comes as a response to an ultimatum issued by Santiago Mayor Pablo Zalaquett last week that gave students until Sept. 20 before he would begin holding students back.
The ultimatum goes in accordance with Chilean law, which states that students must have at least an 85 percent attendance record in order to pass. While Zalaquett insisted he will not be lenient on this law, he said he would extend the school year in order to accommodate students.
Last week, five schools remained occupied and four non-functional in downtown Santiago, but as of Monday afternoon only one school remained occupied. Two others had not resumed classes due to damages, according to the municipality of Santiago.
Spokesperson for the Coordinating Assembly for High School Students (ACES) Pablo Toro said the final decision would depend on each individual school.
"Each school needs to see how they are going to mobilize,” Toro told Radio Universidad de Chile. “ACES will not make a mass appeal to all schools, we acknowledge that the contexts of each high school are unique."
By Gwynne Hogan - The Santiago Times