A late-stage side effect of the coronavirus pandemic has turned up in Belgium, where a group of teenagers is begging to go back to school.

Fed up with the COVID-19 restrictions keeping them at home most of the time, students in the last two years of a high school in the city of Liege launched an online petition asking for more in-person class time.

“It’s been six months now that we have been going to class only once a week,” the students enrolled at the Athénée Léonie de Waha wrote last week. “Get ready, and open your ears: We want to go to school more often. Yes, yes, you heard it right!”

The students’ efforts paid off Tuesday following an online meeting with Mayor Willy Demeyer and education officials in the city, which is known for its universities. The officials pledged to revisit the current COVID-19 protocol in a bid to get the 16 to 18-year-olds in-person instruction at least half-time starting Monday.

Months of learning exclusively or mostly online took a toll on the school’s more than 200 students, the petition writers said. Concerned that prolonged distance learning would eventually derail their academic progress, they complained about the lack of social interaction and a growing loss of motivation sitting alone in front of their computers.

“We could not take it anymore,” student Lena Piazza told The Associated Press. “With the fatigue and the loss of concentration, many people were about to disengage.”

Piazza said she felt like “an old person” with headaches, pain in her neck and a lot of stress.

Since the start of the pandemic, academic studies and accounts from parents and teachers in many countries have highlighted the global challenges of remote learning. But as confirmed coronavirus cases keep soaring across Europe and authorities face a more contagious virus variant and overwhelmed hospitals, a general return to regular schooling is not foreseen for months in many countries.

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In Italy, students and parents have protested continued school closures, with some high schoolers declaring an online “strike” on Monday. Most Italian elementary and middle schools remained open for in-person learning throughout the fall, but high schools shifted back to remote learning at the end of October.

The Liege students had an advantage in getting officials to take their pleas seriously. They attend classes at a school that employs the alternative pedagogy developed by French educational reformer Celestin Freinet. His philosophy rejected the traditional lines of authority in schools, holding that children’s views should be taken into account.

Athénée Léonie de Waha Director Rudi Creeten said the students had his support in their battle to attend school in person more often. He said they had shown patience and dedication to remote learning over the past months but started to “suffer” recently.

“Their struggles to go through the current situation have been heard,” Creeten told the AP. The decision made Tuesday “opens a door. It says that we can trust the youth.”

In Belgium, like in other countries, decisions whether to close or open …read more

Source:: News Headlines


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