Thursday, December 3

Italian children take lessons outside of school in protest of Covid closures | Italy

Temperatures have dropped in recent days in the northern Italian city of Turin, but that hasn’t stopped Anita Iacovelli from persevering in her protest against the closure of her school.

Every day since November 6, when schools in the city and the Piedmont region in general were closed due to escalating coronavirus infections, the 12-year-old girl, wearing a hat, gloves and a mask, has sat outside from the Italo Calvino school and has continued with it. lessons remotely on a tablet. Behind her is a handwritten sign that says “Learning at school is our right.”

It started as a lone protest, but Anita was soon joined by her friend Lisa Rogliatti and other classmates, before the initiative gained momentum across Italy.

It’s not the most ideal way to study, but kids just want to go back to class, having spent months locked indoors in front of computers during the first wave of the pandemic.

“At first, when they announced that schools were closing, we were happy because exam weeks were coming up, so we thought about skipping them,” Anita told The Guardian. “But then it got extremely heavy and we got really tired.”

Anita and Lisa in front of the Italo Calvino school in Turin
Anita and Lisa in front of the Italo Calvino school in Turin. Photograph: Marco Alpozzi / AP

Schools in Italy reopened in September after being closed for more than six months. Within weeks, all of his high school classes were moved back online when the second wave of coronavirus washed over him. “I was not afraid to go back to school, it was a safe place and it was lovely to see friends from school even for a short time,” Anita said.

Distance learning was extremely exhausting, he said. “When you study in this way there are so many problems, maybe you lose your Internet connection and have to repeat the task. After so much time in front of a screen, you stop concentrating and get distracted, so you no longer follow the lesson. But that’s not the only problem: some people don’t even have an Internet connection, space to work, or parents who can help and support them. “

The protest caught the attention of the Minister of Education, Lucía Azzolina, who called Anita to congratulate her and tell her that she would do everything possible to reopen the schools as soon as possible.

“The message I want to send is that schools are safe,” Anita said. “We were always wearing masks, the windows were open and there was hand gel.”

The Italian government has adopted a tiered system in its 20 regions to address the pandemic. Piedmont is in the high-risk “red zone,” which means that people can leave their homes only for work, health or emergency reasons. Bars and restaurants are closed, as are most shops. But people still have the right to protest.

Students studying on the street in Turin
Students studying on the street in Turin. Photograph: Alessandro Di Marco / EPA

Anita’s rally and others across the country are now being promoted by Priority to school (Priority to School), a movement made up of teachers and parents that fight for a better educational system. The protests are dubbed “Schools for the Future,” a play by Fridays for Future, the global climate strike movement started by Greta Thunberg in Sweden in 2018.

Comparisons are already being made between Anita and Greta. “But Anita says ‘I’m Anita, not Greta,'” said her mother, Cristiana Perrone.

Perrone has been accompanying her daughter in the protests. “The kids are really determined … they are really focused on going back to school.”

Anita, whose favorite subject is math, said she didn’t have a precise idea of ​​what she would like to do in the future, but she wanted to do something that helps schools.

“I would like to create a policy for schools that gives them the importance they should have,” he said.

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