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Europe, From Italy and France to Germany, Is Locking Down Everything to Keep Schools Open in COVID Second Wave

If Europeans learned anything from the first COVID-19 lockdown, it’s that kids just can’t learn from home.

ROME—The Ambrosoni family in the central part of the city here have one computer, painfully slow internet, and three children in elementary school, making learning from home something of a challenge. When schools closed down last March, the children essentially stopped learning, the family says. And the family does not want to see that happen again.

“During the first lockdown in the spring, each child had to sacrifice a third of their school day so their siblings could also attend classes,” mom Gabriella, who is still on furlough from the last lockdown, told The Daily Beast. “Which means they all basically lost the last part of the school year.” And with dad Angelo working at a restaurant—now subject to further restrictions and likely new closures—buying two more computers just isn’t in the cards at the moment.

The Ambrosoni family struggle is mirrored across Europe, where keeping schools open during new lockdowns in the second wave of the pandemic has been a priority. Not only do smaller housing and spotty infrastructure make at-home learning difficult, but in many southern European countries like Italy, where daycare centers are scarce and grandparents as caregivers are now off-limits due to COVID concerns, schools play a vital role in keeping parents at work.

But as European education ministers fight to keep schools open, experts across the continent are warning that while young people do not generally suffer the same consequences of COVID-19, the schools are likely contributing to the rapid spread of the virus. Writing in Bloomberg News, Italian economics analyst Ferdinando Giugliano says the biggest dilemma for governments during the second wave is what to do about schools. “Closing them could lead to a ‘lost generation’ of learners and make it harder for parents to get back to work,” he says. “Keeping them open could further propagate the virus.”

So far, the majority of…

Barbie Latza Nadeau

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