Italy: Students protest over school closures due to COVID-19
Italian school students have been protesting against the closure of schools in Turin city, Piedmont, due to COVID-19. The protests were started by a 12-year-old girl, Anita Iacovelli, who sat outside her school, studying remotely on a tablet computer, as a sign of protest. Schools were shut again after reopening in parts of Italy earlier this month amid the second wave of COVID-19.
Anita has been sitting outside the Italo Calvino school since November 6—when schools across Piedmont were closed—along with a poster saying "Learning at school is our right." Her classmates followed suit and now the movement has picked up across Italy. Anita has said that although they were happy when the schools had shut initially, remote learning is proving itself to be extremely strenuous.
Anita told The Guardian, "When you study this way there are so many problems, maybe you lose the internet connection and have to repeat the task." "After so long being in front of a screen you stop concentrating, so you don't follow the lesson anymore," she said, adding that some people don't have internet, or space to work, or parents for support.
Italy's schools were reopened after a six-month break in September, however, all high school classes were again moved online within weeks due to the second wave of COVID-19. Anita said she was not afraid of returning to schools, describing them as safe places. "We were always in masks, the windows were open, and there was hand gel," she said.
Education Minister Lucia Azzolina has called Anita to tell her that she would do everything she could to reopen schools as soon as possible. Piedmont is notably in Italy's high-risk "red zone," where people can only leave their homes for work, health, or emergency reasons.
The protest is now being promoted by Priorità alla Scuola (Priority to School), a movement led by teachers and parents for a better education system. The protests are being called 'Schools for Future' after Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg's 'Fridays for Future' movement. As people draw parallels between the two girls, Anita's mother Cristiana Perrone said, "Anita says 'I'm Anita, not Greta.'"
When asked what it is that she would like to do in the future, Anita said she would like to help schools. "I would like to create a policy for schools that gives them the importance they need to have," she said.