The schooling scene in Europe is now entering a precarious state as it opens the doors to schools across the countries, despite surging number of cases of Covid-19.
The European nations are now more bothered about bridging the learning gap that has only widened over the lockdown period. This has prompted most nations to throw caution to wind and start allowing parents to send their children to their respective schools.
While the infection cases have been surging, countries like Britain, France and Spain have imposed strict mask rules, hired extra teachers and are also investing in building new desks en masse. Teachers are already starting to complain of children contracting the infection and that they are not ready to handle the pandemic in schools. But European leaders are of the thought that children are much better off this way than locked up at home. The UNICEF has reported a surge in cases of depression, anger and irritability increase amongst children who have been home bound for more than 120 days since the lockdowns were imposed in Europe and the rest of the world.
Boris Johnson would not be guilty if his government was to fine parents for not sending their kids to school. Ironically, Giuseppe Conte, the Italian PM feels that it is normal to reopen schools in September while he gave orders recently to close down any movement in discos across the cities. To reinforce his seriousness, the Italian Education Ministry had already put out a Europe-wide tender earlier in July for three million single-seat desks. This is in tune of maintaining the social distancing protocols in schools, which have never used single benches due to paucity of space. Delivery of the banchi(s) is expected to happen by September 8.
There is one big reason why European leaders wish children go to school- mental and psychological well being. Since April 2020, when the lockdowns became the new normal, children were being schooled at home. They were getting neither the right learning environment, nor the recreation or exercise that children needed in their growing years.
While the scare of the children catching the infection remains a huge concern, the overall understanding that herd immunity will finally balance the curve, is a risk the European education system will have to take. It is better than handling long term psychological damage to the children that might take away their whole schooling life to mend.