Deconfinement in Lille: “I’m Happy to Find my Friends”, The Comeback to School for 2,000 Children from Lille

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Back to school in small groups at Lalo-Clément school in Lille.

DECONFINEMENT: A few days after the teachers, it was the children who found their way back to school in Lille

The second start of the year. Thursday morning, in Lille and throughout France, many children returned to school two months after the closure of all schools due to the coronavirus epidemic. For this return to post-confinement, drastic health rules have been put in place, the first of which being to limit the number of students per class to ten. Report at the elementary school Lalo-Clément, in the city centre of Lille.

Around 8:15 a.m., this Thursday morning, parents and children arrive in droppers in front of the school gate. The least we can say is that we do not rush at the gate. “Arrivals are spread over an hour to prevent too many people from crossing”, explains Didier Cassez, the director of the establishment. In any case, few students are expected, the maximum number per class having been limited to ten.

“They were a little apprehensive, especially recreation”

In this school, which usually has 264 children, only 64 will make this return to work after confinement. “We decided to reopen all levels in elementary with a capacity to accommodate 3,600 children in this configuration,” says Charlotte Brun, assistant mayor in charge of education. However, the schools are not overwhelmed by requests from parents since only 2,000 children have actually returned to school.

In front of the gate, Bérangère and his two daughters, Floriane and Mélyne, await their turn. “I did not hesitate long before I decided to put the children back in school, especially because of my work,” admits the mother. And the girls are far from unhappy to go back to class: “I’m happy to find the friends even if we have to stay away,” says Floriane, 10. “They were a little apprehensive, especially recreation. We talked about it with them and we repeated the barrier gestures, ”jokes Bérangère.

Behind the trio, Benoît and little Noa line up. A researcher at the Pasteur Institute, Dad was not worried about health measures. “The main question was whether he wasn’t going to feel too alone,” the scientist said. Like Florian and Mélyne, Noa plans to find her comrades, “and the mistress,” he promises. He knows the rules by heart: “we cough in our elbows, we move away from others and we don’t lend our belongings,” says the little boy.

Hand washing, masked faces and safety distances

After the gate, the children are looked after by school personnel with masked faces. Hand washing compulsory before entering classes emptied of half of their tables. In the preamble, small videos are broadcast to explain the coronavirus epidemic to children. “It’s about explaining this pandemic with words adapted to children,” insists a CP teacher.

For recreation, the director of the establishment decided to split the workforce into two groups. At Lalo-Clément, there is no question of confining the children in squares drawn in chalk on the ground as we have seen in a school in Tourcoing. For the canteen, the same principle, always to avoid too many people in the same place at the same time.

“The reception of children was done according to the priority nature of the parents’ professions: caregivers, civil servants, rescue workers… Barring exceptions, the workforce should not change until the second phase, in June. At this time, the reception will be extended, ”says the education assistant. To see if the results of the first weeks of recovery will convince suspicious parents to put their toddlers back to school.

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