IIn Italy, schools reopened in September after being closed for six months, one of the longest in Europe. But when the second wave started in November, all secondary school students and most middle school classes had to stay at home again. That was reason enough for the 12-year-old Anita Lacovelli from Turin to protest.
In an action that coincides with that of the climate activist Greta Thunberg was compared, she put her desk and laptop on the street in front of her school, along with a sign that read: “Learning at school is our right”. Shortly afterwards, classmates joined the demonstration in the cold and the “Schools for Future” movement – whose name is based on Thunberg’s “Fridays for Future” – grew; Protests flared up across the country.
Agostino Miozzo, coordinator of the government’s scientific committee, told the Italian daily La Stampa: “The entire committee agrees that the right to school in our country should apply without restriction.” Miozzo added: “If it were up to me, we would have we have long since reopened schools … The children have every reason to protest. I wish I could take to the streets with them. “
The question of whether schools should reopen at all after the first wave and the summer vacation posed a dilemma for governments across Europe.
Most chose to give priority to education and schools with requirements like Mask requirementto open smaller classes and ventilation. This also relieved overburdened parents and could work again instead of having to grapple with homeschooling.
Over the weekend, the Italian government finally eased Covid-19 restrictions in several regions and allowed middle school students to attend school. But despite the green light from Rome, local authorities in Umbria, Calabria and Piedmont continue to leave the older students at home.
This decision made parents and students particularly angry because of activities that benefit the economy – such as Shopping – are now allowed again. Even the opening of a new mall in Rome was allowed – something that Miozzo denounced as “shameful”.
“It’s much easier to close a school than to postpone the opening of a new mall; also because children cannot choose, ”he added.
Miozzo says children are more likely to get infected if they stay at home. In fact, in Italy in November, only 11 percent were on Covid-19 sufferers under 19 years old and there were eight deaths in that age group – compared to over 50,000 deaths in the country as a whole. He therefore considers a high infection rate through attending school to be unlikely.
Long-term economic consequences of closed schools
Education Minister Lucia Azzolina of the Five Star Movement raised the issue on Italian television and said it would be “wrong to create conflict between business and school.” She stressed: “Both are of fundamental importance”.
One of the main barriers to school opening is public transport concerns. This has not been adapted so that students can use it with sufficient distance could use, so the assumption.
Azzolina, on the other hand, claims that local transport works well in small towns and that travel times in large cities have been staggered to avoid overcrowding.
Gloria Ghetti, a history and philosophy teacher in the northern Italian city of Faenza and spokeswoman for the Priorita Alle Scuole (priority for schools) campaign, also accuses the authorities of preferential treatment of the economy.
And she emphasizes that closed schools can also cause economic damage in the long term because they lower the level of education. “They’re trying to reduce the number of cases by leaving students at home – but if we don’t invest in them, they’ll be economically disadvantaged in the long run,” she says.
Doctors also have an increase in children psychological Problems observed, including anxiety, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating, Ghetti said. She also pointed out that children lose a piece of their personal development through the lack of contact with their peers. As a result, they are later less competitive on the labor market compared to their European contemporaries.
“The government should listen to its own experts and to parents and students,” says the teacher. “Christmas presents will not repair the damage done.”
In cooperation with Politico. Translated from English by Jessica Wagener.