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. There is a lot of evidence, however, of 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.
All research starts with a question. The EuCare project starts from a simple question:Is there a better way to contain the spread of Covid-19 than closing schools?
In order to answer this question, the EuCare project 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 project is coordinated by the EuResist network, a network of over 20 universities and research centres who have been working on infectious diseases for over 10 years. OBESSU, as the European network of national, democratic and independent secondary school student unions, collaborates with EuResist to make sure that the rights of students are respected and upheld at all times throughout the project.