School closures were amongst the first and most common measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 globally. Schools were closed on an average of ten consecutive weeks during the first lockdown (March 2020) and then intermittently due to sudden surges of cases of the second and third wave, with wide variation across European countries. Because of this reason, very little evidence exists on the way Covid-19 spreads in schools and classrooms. Nonetheless, evidence and testimonials can easily be found about the fact that school closures have negative consequences for students. Online learning is less engaging and interactive; teachers are not always comfortable using computers, programmes and digital tools; not all students have the same access to computers and a reliable internet connection to follow the classes - these are only some of the issues raised by students about their experiences learning online.
The EuCare project is funded by Horizon Europe and will research and monitor the spread of Covid-19 in a number of schools across Europe, with the final aim of finding alternatives to absolute school closures, such as better testing and containment strategies. Part of the project will also focus on learning more about the psychological effect of certain aspects of the pandemic on students, for example distance learning, containment measures (mask wearing, social distancing) and Covid-19 testing.
The website of the project just went out and OBESSU will soon get in touch with its members and partners to explain how they can get involved in the project by participating in an observational study and help schools to not have to close again and understand better the experiences of students around Europe!