It is the first time that the beginning of a new school year has taken up so much space in public life and seen so much publicity. And it is not just television time that is devoted to the subject.
There are also the statements and counterstatements from the whole social chain – from children, parents and teachers, government officials, the political opposition, local government, infectious disease specialists, passers-by and conspiracy theorists.
The whole of society is up in arms. Disagreements, agreements, political confrontations, reactions, TV advertisements where children’s voices sing about the protection measures, regulations and instructions to all involved. The atmosphere is more reminiscent of a conflict than of what precedes the first school bell.
The pandemic did not just find Greek society – and the education system in particular – unprepared, but the entire planet. How have we reacted to this new reality? With a lot of noise and no composure, instead of discipline (abiding by health protocols is just one example) and close cooperation, at least between the main protagonists in this issue: parents, teachers, students and parents. The repetition is intentional.
A high school principal in Athens asked parents to accompany their mask-wearing children (high school seniors) to school on Monday, because he fears possible reactions from parents who reject the use of face masks, which some of them view as a “biomedical, non-therapeutic experiment.”
Although it has been announced that teachers are protected against legal action by parents, nothing stops those who deny science, who rely on a battered educational system, an arena for ideological conflicts, with unappreciated teachers and a state unprepared to meet the (in this case unprecedented) needs and requirements.
It was only a matter of time before the expulsion of common sense manifested itself as a continuation of the years of school sit-ins. The virus will find fertile ground in unprotected and incoherently cultivated schools.
It is not just the anti-systemic trends of the ubiquitous “movements” against the mask. It is also the fact that public education in our country has assigned parents authority that does not belong to them. More and more, year by year. And now, we have those house rules not only invading schools, but also taking over.