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Backwards or Forwards?

There’s a certain irony to be found in the events of last week: on Monday 14th September Italy went back to ‘normal’ with the reopening of schools for the first time since March and England conversely tightened up restrictions on social gatherings.

There is double irony in the fact that Italy led the way at the start of the pandemic while other European countries looked on in horror whereas Italians have now had the chance to stand back and watch what happened as English schools went back first on September 1st.

So what has happened? Well, I’m not going to bother with the official statistics, you can read those in any newspaper, but I am going to share what I’ve picked up from talking to friends and family on the ground so to speak: kids are getting COVID-19, classes are being quarantined, and some schools are being closed. Families and carers are having to stay home from work. This started within days of schools reopening. Surprise, surprise, we started to see the same things happening here last week.

What can we do? Not much really in my opinion. Children have a universal right to education and an innate desire to mix with people their own age.

The British government’s response was to create ‘bubbles’ of varying size (it’s becoming a bit of a buzz word) of classes or year groups with children wearing masks only in communal areas and the Italian government decided that it would be best for Italian students to wear masks at all times, even when sitting at their desks. Some high schools here are also offering blended learning solutions to older pupils, with some students in class and some logged on at home on a rotating basis.

Have either of these policies worked? Apparently not. Which brings us onto the latest development…the British government has now decided that nationally people from multiple households cannot congregate in groups of more than six, inside or out.

So basically, if you’ve got 4 kids or more you’d better hope that you all get on because you won’t be seeing anybody else for the foreseeable future. Unless of course you decide to go to the pub, or out for a meal or even to the school gates…then you can talk to as many random strangers as you like.

Sarah Gudgeon, settembre 2020 – © Mozzafiato

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