The diffusion of coronavirus is a fact in Europe, and gradually all the European States are going to attempt to contain it, with measures that could change our lifestyles in the next weeks or months.

As the first European State being strongly impacted by the virus, Italy has already stopped all the activities and lectures done in person in schools and universities, and limited the possibility of going out.

We need to speak up, in Solidarity with students in Italy, and knowing that these limitations could become necessary in other European countries to limit a contagion that doesn’t know borders.

In Italy the first actions are taken following the indications of the World Health Organisation, while other countries are currently figuring out how to proceed. Young people in Italy are asked (and going to be asked) to stay at home and learning activities are expected to be moved on the internet with online conference calls and chats.

Online learning is a great opportunity to continue learning throughout the time needed to combat the corona outbreak. Moving learning to an online environment requires special attention to the different social aspects on learning, such as teamwork, cooperation and shared breaks. OBESSU wants to see also social inequalities in access to online learning platforms taken into account, as well as the involvement of students in planning the use of new and alternative methods throughout this outbreak.

To avoid negative consequences it’s necessary to grant full accessibility to the online classwork, keeping in mind barriers as the unavailability of internet connection in certain areas and the inability for many families currently living in poverty or in unstable economic conditions to get ahold of proper devices. The inclusion of students affected by disability is another key element, and the support systems normally implemented by schools must be adapted to these new instruments of teaching and learning.

It is core for all the Ministries of Education to discuss seriously about methods of learning, exploring also non formal education, to use the devices at the full of their potential and to try to not miss content that could be relevant for knowledge and skills development.

As an umbrella of European School Student Unions, we claim for a full inclusion of School Students and of their Organisations in the decision making, because the learning environment of the really near future, and its quality, will depend on learners.

We highly recommend to School Student Unions, Organisations and all individuals in general to strictly follow indications coming from the national Governments, to keep themselves updated through the World Health Organisation official communication channels, and to be ready to adapt their future plans and activities to keep safe and healthy during the outbreak.

We express our full solidarity to the Italian School Student Unions, Rete degli Studenti Medi - RSM and Unione degli Studenti - UdS, and all other member organisations that have had to cancel and rearrange activities due to the outbreak, and that now are working to represent learners in the ongoing discussion on the prevention and impeding the spread of the virus..

Written by Giuseppe Lipari, Board member of OBESSU.

For further information, we suggest:

The webpage of the World Health Organisation on coronavirus

A reflection of our Board Member Giuseppe Lipari on the situation in Italy (in Italian).