Post-deconfinement Day 7

Monday, 18th May

School in times of Covid

So my 10-year old, who’s in her last year of primary school, has started school again. Just half-weeks, ie Monday and Tuesday. The rest of the week she will still be homeschooling. And it’s just one day this week as there’s a bank holiday. She was very excited, as she misses her friends a lot. She came back in two minds: it’s good to be back at school, but it’s « weird ».

There are only 8 of them in her group, another group of 8 will be going to school the other half week. The rest of her class of 25 isn’t going back at all – their parents have chosen not to send them.

Social distancing in school

She says it’s nice and quiet. Their desks have been placed further apart. To enter the classroom they have to follow a specific path identified by duct tape on the floor. There are crosses all over the floor and in the playground – made with duct-tape, paint or chalk – placed one metre apart for the children to know what distance to keep from one another. On the first day, they were put to work and asked to help finish place the crosses by taking large steps and drawing them on the ground. They have invented a new game which involves jumping from one cross to another – and therefore involves no contact.

I ask her whether they have talked about confinement. Not really, she says. « We spent two months in lockdown, we didn’t really want to talk about it, we wanted to get on with stuff. » « We talked a lot but didn’t really tell each other anything, » she adds, asking if I see what she means. I say I do: adults do the same!

No schoolbags

She leaves for school in the morning without a schoolbag: they don’t bring anything into school or anything home from school to avoid contagion. They were given books and pens and pencils, which they are not to share, and which stay in school.

But all in all, despite all these strange new measures, I can tell she is glad to have something of a social life back. When lockdown arrived, she was really starting to gain in autonomy – going to and from her drama and volleyball classes by herself on her scooter. And she was really enjoying the freedom. I guess it feels like it was cut in the bud for her just as she was gaining that autonomy she so craved.

Summer holidays?

We will have to see whether the week-long scout camp planned for the summer will still be taking place. There probably won’t be any holidays in Corsica with grandma who usually spends the month of July there. Camping seems like the best option – luckily, we know a few good spots. For now, it is impossible to make any plans. The next milestone will be on June 2nd, when the government will reassess the situation and decide whether to reopen cafes, restaurants, borders.

Speaking of which, my daughter’s godmother, who lives in southern France but has been in Scotland with her mother during lockdown, is finally going to be able to make it home next week as airports reopen. She will probably have to self-quarantine for 14 days, in her village in the Drôme.

Beaches reopen

In Sète, where my father lives, the beaches reopened last weekend. The weather was glorious and he says the beach was packed. But people are not allowed to sit in one place – they can walk and swim, but clusters are to be avoided. Municipal employee in yellow vests roam, reminding people not to get too comfortable. The owners of the beach huts which usually reopen for Easter are already busy putting up the walls – by law, they have to take them down at the end of the season. They have already lost a couple of months income and are keen to catch up. How they will meet the challenge of enforce social distancing remains to be seen.

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