- Will it close or not close? This Wednesday evening, one of the big issues is whether Emmanuel Macron will announce a closure of schools, as during the first confinement.
- A measure that would not be unanimous among parents, some being in favor, others totally opposed.
- Why does this question stir up such strong emotions?
Emmanuel Macron could announce this Wednesday evening the closure of schools, demanded by several scientific and medical personalities in order to reduce the circulation of the coronavirus in France. A choice avoided for almost a year, especially during the second confinement in November, where schools, colleges and high schools had remained open. To find any sign of a total closure, we must go back to May 2020. An exception touted by the government and which divides parents.
On the one hand, there are those who are afraid that their children will infect themselves at school and subsequently infect family members. In recent weeks, via tests in schools, the figures have shown many positive cases among students, sometimes with traffic above the national average. While France had an incidence of 325 / 100,000 people during the week of March 15 to 21, it was 431 for 15-17 year olds (high school students), 350 for 11-14 year olds (middle school students), 283 for 6-10 year olds, 122 for 3-5 year olds, and 58 for 0-2 year olds, according to data from Public Health France.
Figures that worry Céline *, mother of two children. She says she has a lump in her stomach every time she takes them to school. “We adults are better protected – by teleworking, masks, distance – than our children. That does not make any sense. Leaving them at school means leaving them in a risk area ”. Despite the few serious forms in children, “it is enough that it is yours that has it so that you do not care, although it represents only one person in ten thousand or one in a hundred”, asserts -it. Céline says she takes all possible precautions: her children do not eat in the canteen and have sports exemptions.
Other parents, on the contrary, fear for the education and mental health of their offspring. Loïc *, father of four, wants schools not to close. “My oldest is in college and I see the devastation of distancing on him, the drop in morale, isolation and dropping out of school… I would like to avoid that for my other three.”
What mental health for children?
He remembers the aftereffects left by the first confinement, when schools were closed. “There was no balance in the work – sometimes no homework, sometimes too much, it was the crush, all their grades went down.” According to a study from the Toulouse University Hospital, one in five children suffered from post-traumatic stress after the first confinement.
If he agrees that adults like him make “efforts to save the most fragile”, for this lawyer, there is a clear line not to be crossed: preserve children as much as possible from restrictive health measures. “Children hardly have severe forms of the coronavirus, so don’t be overprotected. They are contaminants, but in this case, isolate other people. According to Loïc, each family can make the effort to self-confine as much as possible, to allow the classes to remain open. An effort that he knows is difficult “but necessary and vital for the future generation”, he pleads: “we have opened face-to-face work one day a week as we see the ravages of distance for accomplished and mature adults. So do 100% distance for children… ”
Why so many parental disagreements? “Education is the main concern for adults with children,” explains family psychologist Mariane Ugho. They know they are judged on it more than any other choice. However, the indecision of the government adds weight to parental education: it is up to them to decide what is best for their children. “This surplus would tend, to believe the psychologist, to extremize the positions of the parents, between the pro-opening of school and the partisans of the closing:” To prove that one takes the right decision for his child, one will make people believe that we know what we are doing, so close to debate or discussion. “.
Parents, not superheroes
The mental health of children is therefore at the heart of the debate. But according to other parents, you have to see it differently. “They are not hermetic to the outside world, all these debates on school end up reaching them, and they are afraid of infecting us, of infecting grandparents, of killing people”, deplores Alain, father of a 9 year old child. “He refuses to give me hugs, he is so afraid of transmitting the disease to me now…. At school, he only talks about that with his classmates. “
Parents also speak of traumatic memories of the first confinement. Brigitte no longer wants to relive “teleworking with the child to be managed in addition at home. I am a mom, not a nanny. By force, my son and I hated each other. We are not made to work and live with our child 24 hours a day. It’s torture, for both of them. She continues, “It’s important to think about children’s mental health, but who will think about our own mental health?” How many parents suffered burnouts during the first confinement? Let’s stop playing superheroes on the pretext that we are parents, we too are fragile and we need not to be let down. “
An opinion joined by Mariane Ugho, supporter of greater help to parents than during the first confinement. For the psychologist, “the State must become aware of the psychological distress of the parents. We do not protect children with parents on the verge of psychological breakdown. “