Back to School: Covid19 Edition pt. 2
My initial Covid post was meant to be published in September right as school had started but with so many changes, I wasn’t sure if I should update the post or keep it as is. I decided to just keep as I had originally intended and to do a follow up post. I have been getting asked how the girls are doing and what specifically is different with all of the Covid rules.
As of today, October 18, 2020, cases in Italy have surpassed what we had in March. With more testing, we are seeing a lot of mild and asymptomatic cases and less severe cases, however it changes daily and as I write this, I am seeing a Facebook post from Torino Oggi that says today, there are 972 active cases in Piemonte and hospital and ICU cases are on the rise.
In Italy, the priority has always been the health and well being of the citizens. Some regions have decided to close schools again in hopes to decrease cases. New decrees have been announced and we must wear masks at all time outside of our homes, and even inside if we have company over. It is recommended that we have no more than 6 people in our home. You can imagine some of the memes that are already making the rounds.
So far, we haven’t had any confirmed cases in our school, however some of the neighboring schools have so it will only be a matter of time before we get hit. The rules and regulations I mentioned in the previous post had specific guidelines that were set out by the Minister of Health and the schools then had to put everything into practice. To make things seem less depressing, I’ll try to make this a little more upbeat.
10 Ways Covid changed the way my kids enjoy their school day.
10. No sharing. – I have had to tell my kids over and over again that they need to make sure they have the right book, workbooks, pencils, marker etc ready and to NOT lose them. There is absolutely NO SHARING between students and obviously if they need something, the teacher will find a way to make they have what they need. If for some reason they leave a book at home, the teachers will try their best to make photocopies for the kids.
9. Lunch is even more isolating. – Lunch is already a hot button issue with me. We opted out of the school meal and the girls take lunch from home or what is known as Pasto Domestico. For some insane reason, kids who take their lunch may not sit at the same table as their classmates that eat the school lunch. There is a separate table and trash can to dispose of their items. Apparently, it’s too much of a hassle for school staff to have to clean up after kids that don’t each their lunch so we have to pay for someone to clean up after them and even to purchase supplies. 🙄 This year, it’s even more ridiculous. There are extra tables so the kids are not sitting together. They’re staggered so no one is directly next to them, but diagonally. There are 12 kids to a table and classes can not mix. Valentina has 16 kids in her class. That means there are 3 table in total for her class. 1 table with 12 kids, 1 table with 4, and 1 table for her. Yup.. my child is the only one in her class that takes lunch and they make her eat lunch alone. I don’t understand why they can’t make an exception for her and sit her with her class. We’ve asked her repeatedly how she feels about it and she doesn’t seem to have a problem. The tables are set so she is next to her friends and can still talk to them.
8. NO AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES/SPORTS.- This is another subject I’m salty about. Last year, The girls participated in extra curricular activities such as Art and Volleyball. Once the pandemic hit and we were on strict lockdown, their activities came to a stop. The Art association and Sports Center sent out emails with activities and exercises to do but in reality, the kids weren’t into it and it was a hard time. Unfortunately, because these places continued to reach out, they considered the as lessons and we were not reimbursed.
7. RECESS IS IN CLASS OR OUTSIDE, BUT NO TEAM GAMES AND/OR YOU PLAY ON YOUR OWN.– We’ve actually been really lucky and have a very mild autumn. The kids have been able to go outside in the courtyard to play during recess. However, keeping their distance is difficult and the teachers are trying their best to come up with fun games for them to play, all the while keeping their masks on. On bad weather days, their recess is spent in the classroom. Each child was asked to bring an extra notebook to use for drawing or a book for reading during this time.
6. CLASSROOM MAY BE IN THE HALLWAY… LITERALLY.– Elisabetta’s class is one of the largest in school. With the regulations of needing to have a meter between each student, her class was left with no option but to take an entire hallways and atrium. During the summer, I read an article stating that in all of Torino, only 9 schools had extra classrooms to try to make accommodations. Ours was one of those schools. They had the top floor of the school to themselves for about a month. A few weeks ago, one classmate moved and they were then able to go into a classroom.
5. SERPARATE ENTRANCES/EXITS AND TIMES.– Another issue that continues is the way the classes were separated to avoid an assembly. Half the classes enter through the main entrance, the other half, through the emergency exits which are located just around the corner of the school. While it would be a problem, they have scheduled the entrance and exit times of several classes at the same time. For example;
8:15-8:20/ 16:20-16:25 -2nd grade & 5th grade enter/exit
8:20-8:25/ 16:25-16:30- 3rd grade & 4th grade enter/exit
8:30-8:35/16:30-16:35- 1st grade enter/exit
Now, I have 3 girls- 5th, 3rd, & 2nd grade which means that Valentina and Carlotta enter at the same time at opposite sides of the school. We have several families who have to literally run from one side to the other to drop off /pick up. As you can see, we’re only given a 5 minute window and according to the Preside (principal), that’s enough time. Well, if everyone is on time but there are several time when one class is late so someone has to wait. Our teachers know this so they try their best and Carlotta is usually one of the first in line so we can quickly get to the other side. Another issue with this is that the emergency exit isn’t covered so when it rains, the kids are standing in line getting wet before going into class. They generally stand in a line and wait for everyone to arrive then walk in together since they have to go up stairs. When it rains, they just have to stand there and get wet. A teacher will take whoever shows up and they’ll immediately go in while another teacher waits for any other kid. We’ve complained and have been told they should just wear a poncho or a jacket with a hood. 🙄
4. SANITIZING. – I don’t think I have heard the word “sanificare” so many times. They are adamant that everything is getting wiped. Teachers also wipe down the hand sanitizers is someone uses it. One of the rules is that the classrooms but be aired out every hour for 10 minutes. Not only that, but the teachers have also said that they keep one window cracked open at all time.
3. PERSONAL ITEMS ARE TO BE KEPT WITH YOU AND NOT IN COMMON AREAS.– I mentioned the personal hygiene bag in the previous post but this also refers to all material. For cleaning purposes and also to avoid leaving books in class in case of another potential full lockdown, ALL books should be kept at home and they only take what they need. Unfortunately they have quite a few book and each has a corresponding notebook, plus pencil case, hygiene bag, aluminum water bottle and it all adds up. They aren’t allowed to hang their jackets on the coat hooks outside of class but on the back of their chair or in their backpack. Incase of bad weather and their jackets are wet, we were told they had to have a plastic bag to put their jacket in and then place in their backpack.
2. HAND SANITIZERS EVERYWHERE.– EVERYWHERE. In the entrance of the school, in the classroom, in the cafeteria, in the gym, in their backpacks, etc…
- MASK MUST BE WORN AT ALL TIMES.– One of the regulations set forth by the government is that all students must wear a surgical mask during school hours. Thankfully, there is also a mandate that says the school must provide all items necessary so the kids are given a mask as school every day. If for any reason they run out, they can wear the personal masks. They started off by just keeping their mask on them and only putting it on while speaking to their teacher/classmates, during recess and while in common areas. As of the end of October, we began to see more of an increase in cases and it was decided that students and staff were to wear masks at all time. Today, we received another memo notifying that students will be provided with 2 masks daily to change after 4 hours.
As you can see, Italy is NOT messing around and they are doing a lot to trying to protect the public and make sure the kids can continue going to school. Our last decree which went into effect today, November 6, 2020, now has all students from 2nd year of Middle school (7th grade) and higher, including University at home doing distance learning. While we can complain but these things, and trust me we do, our main concern is that these kids continue to go to school. So we’ll continue to do what we’re asked, cross our fingers, and hope for the best.
This is the 6th post in a series I started in 2017 called Back to School: Italy vs USA where I shared the differences of school experiences between the girls and their American friends. Click below for the previous posts:
Back to School: Italy vs USA school supplies
Back to School: Italy vs USA school lunch
Back to School: Italy vs USA – the extras
Back to School: Italy vs USA- Elementary school
Back to School: Covid 19 edition pt 1