School start 2021, lack of attention to distancing will lead to new infections

The wishes expressed publicly by the Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano on the very delicate theme of composition of classes do not seem to confirm the doubling made due to the health emergency nor to foresee new ones for the first classes of the new school year 2021/22.

Therefore we would like to bring the following observations to your attention, in order to contribute as parents to a choice that is not dictated exclusively by economic reasons.

The emergency we are currently experiencing cannot be said to be over: in the preparation of the classes, one failure to pay attention to respecting the spacing it could involve important problems from the health point of view, also linked to the observance of national and provincial regulations.

If this caution was not considered in the preparation of the staff, the administration could be forced to review everything following a new wave of infections and this would certainly lead to an aggravation of work by the institutes, but above all a sense of uncertainty in the user.

Also not to be underestimated is the need, with the start of the new school year, to grasp the signs of psychological distress manifested by young people due to the impossibility of maintaining normal social relationships.

Particular attention should therefore be paid to psychological repercussions on children, providing support interventions after this anomalous and difficult period of their life. It is assumed that also from the didactic point of view, knowledge and skills must be recovered which in these two years could not be consolidated.

Tiring balances were achieved in the classes thanks to the joint work of teachers and families; their reorganization could further undermine the fragile serenity achieved by our children, already severely tested by these months of pandemic due to the heavy renunciations of freedom, socialization and sport. We cannot forget that in school and in particular in the classroom, children find fundamental points of reference in the group and in the teachers; elements that, if undermined, could have a negative effect on their psychological well-being.

Without prejudice to the centrality of classroom teaching, it appears evident that it can find expression only thanks to a preventive and punctual organization that creates the conditions to allow students to reach the school in complete safety; at the same time, it is necessary to prepare in advance a series of conciliatory interventions between work and family.

With a design vision that you consider the extraordinary financial allocations for the school as an action to make concrete that fundamental role of education repeatedly reiterated by both the President of the Council Draghi and the Minister of Education Bianchi, it would indeed be necessary to overturn the underlying concept, providing for the future a plan to reduce the maximum number of pupils for the classes which will be partly favored by the demographic trend and which could constitute an innovative example of true autonomy which our territory has great need.

Despite the awareness of the economic difficulties that affect many sectors, the observation that the school is always penalized, on which it is easy to act with cuts in resources even to the detriment of the educational quality and psycho-physical health of the children, represents for us parents a great disappointment as well as indirectly a lack of respect for the entire school system that has put so much energy into these months.

We therefore hope that these reflections will find adequate attention, within the sphere of institutional roles and competences, so that we can reassess the guidelines for the next school year and consider the organizational proposal that takes its cue from ministerial indications for the future.

Should one wish to depart from the national guidelines in the exercise of autonomy, it is required to explain the reasons behind these choices and the expected benefits for users.

Maurizio Freschi, President of the Provincial Council of Parents, Autonomous Province of Trento

Heidrun Goals, Chairwoman of the regional advisory board for parents in German schools and kindergartens

Noemi Frontull, President of the Consultation Provinziela di Genitores dla Scolines and Scoles Ladines

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