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European kids return to school

Europe is venturing back into normalcy as multiple countries have decided to reopen their schools amidst the pandemic. The common sentiment across Europe is to toughen up rather than cower, a lesson learnt the hard way for millions of European kids.

Children attending socially distanced classes (Source: Science)

European officials have decided to put children back into school classrooms for the new term. Facing an increase in coronavirus cases, officials in France, Britain, Spain and other countries are making rules about masks, building new classrooms and adding teachers. European leaders from the political left, right and center are sending an identical message to students and their parents. The overarching belief across the board being further restrictions, can be detrimental to the children’s social behavior, as the formative years are crucial to build a healthy future.

France’s prime minister promised last week to “do everything” to get people back to school and work. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called reopening schools a “moral duty.” His government even threatened to fine parents who keep children at home. And Italy’s health minister forced discos to close this month with one goal in mind: “to reopen schools in September in complete safety.”

Hand cleansing stations, social distancing and staggered play time will become the new normal as countries across Europe seek ways to get children back into the classroom safely and their economies functioning once again. Yet, there is apprehension to the re-opening plans. In France, Spain and elsewhere, some parents and teachers' unions have voiced concern at plans for reopening classrooms as the spread of the virus gathers renewed pace.

The parents also believe there has been a lack of clarity in the governments messaging, and the addressal of the parents queries. The British government says schools will only close if conditions become very bad. But parents say the government’s message has been unclear.

Most of the country’s 11 million students have not seen a classroom since March. Britain has 41,515 virus-related deaths, the highest confirmed number in Europe. Johnson’s government has been strongly criticized for the way it has reacted to the pandemic.

Medical experts say the risk of opening schools depends on how widespread COVID-19 infections are in the community and what safety measures are taken. Evidence suggests young children do not spread the disease very easily. But children aged 10 years and up may spread it as easily as adults. While children appear less likely than adults to get infected, severe cases and deaths have been documented.

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