Life has been a bit mundane lately hence the lack of writing. In many ways, life almost feels normal again except for the lack of work, masks and the giant list of protocols that goes with every activity. The big news is that our schools have reopened. In the midst of a pandemic this is important and I for one, support the effort being made, the risk and dedication from most of our educators and the many sacrifices families are making. If anyone in the house has a fever, students must stay home until at least three feverless days have passed. This means even healthy kids will probably miss a fair amount of school this year, especially if they have siblings. Prior to and post opening, we have been inundated with documents as to how students are to enter the school, how they are to comport themselves once inside, what to do if anyone at home is sick, measuring temperatures daily…and the list goes on. Between school, basketball practice, cooking, cleaning, and gardening the days fly by. I am also “working” as an assistant editor for The Guide Collective which is the one thing that makes me feel grounded in this world of ours where everything feels like it has been turned upside down and inside out. This is our new normal and I know people all over the world are in similar situations which are being dealt with differently depending on the country, their cultures, and their governments. There is so much drama, trauma and criticism everywhere we look so I am going to try and share a few thing that are going on here in Italy, or at least my corner of Italy that I view as being relatively positive as we work on getting back to the new normal.
We have sports! Constantly evolving as to how little or how much contact we can have, practices are ongoing and actual games will be starting again soon. Emanuele plays basketball and the only thing I don’t yet know is whether we parents will be allowed to watch the games once the season begins or not. What has changed is that masks are worn when not playing, temperatures are taken at the door and the locker room is off limits. No more showering at the gym makes for a stinky car ride home but that is a small price to pay for having a physical outlet during this stressful time.
Going to the visit our family doctor has always been time consuming as most doctors worked on a first come, first serve basis. They kept office hours, filling prescriptions was the priority during the first thirty minutes and visits came afterwards. Whenever I needed to see my doctor, I would count on spending a couple of hours waiting for my turn unless simply filling a prescription. Not anymore! All doctor’s visits are now scheduled. When I needed prescriptions filled during lockdown, I would call or write my doctor and she would tell me when to come and pick them up, with the time being organized between visits. Last week I wrote her for prescriptions, she instead emailed all the documents with password protection for me to print at home within a couple of hours. This is some serious progress! I am sure this is more time and cost effective for the doctor and certainly better for busy people.
Patience is a virtue that many of us have forgotten and it is something we are relearning. The Italians are also learning to wait in lines. If you have never visited Italy, this might be hard to relate to, but as an American, it has always driven me crazy. The first time I experienced an Italian line was skiing. The pommel lift I was waiting for would take one person at a time up the mountain and people would literally weasel their way into position. After the third run of the day, my ski partner, Matteo, who had been waiting at the top of the mountain for about 15 minutes, gave me a lesson and said, “Lisa, you need to learn to be more Italian, you need to learn to use your elbows.” I learned that lesson but culturally it has always been a hard one for me. With Covid and social distancing, people are being forced to wait in line, often outlined by a circle or square, outside of small businesses you ask who is last in line and in many places you simply take a number and wait. Pazienza!
Being back in School is the last thing I am going to comment on, and this is a very mixed bag, positive, negative, meh? In my native Seattle, all classes through high school are still being done remotely. I suppose if you were already into home-schooling, not much has changed. The Italians passionately believe in their school system and there is no official home-schooling system here. Although both the American and International systems are legally recognized, the concept of home schooling is culturally baffling to the Italians and is a nightmare for working parents everywhere, especially if you have young kids that need one-on-one help or older kids that need prodding so as not to miss their lessons. I am happy that the school system has restarted here and am hopeful that it will continue through the academic year even if individual schools are forced to shut down due to quarantines for a couple of weeks at a time. There are just over 53,000 schools in Italy. 40% of these are called asili, for children 3-6 years old, basically, it is state subsidized day-care. The other 60% are elementary, middle, and high schools. To date, 94 schools are closed, and another 528 schools have verified positive Covid19 cases. 12,5% of the staff have tested positive and high school students represent 30% of the active cases. When a school is shut down, it will be thoroughly sanitized, above and beyond what is already being done daily, and quarantine will last for a minimum of 14 days. No one will be allowed back until their test comes back negative. Since many of these cases are asymptomatic, online classes can continue during the closure. After the spring lockdown, we now have the ability to immediately begin online school if active Covid19 cases force a school to shut and one of the projects being worked on in our district is streaming the live classes for kids who might be stuck at home because someone else is sick in their family, not necessarily with Covid19. Of course, another giant problem here is that if a student tests positive, their entire household is quarantined. For people who are not able to work from home, this means being put on sick leave.
As I write this, my son has been at home with a cold and cough for a week now and while he is keeping up with his homework, he is missing his lectures. I am the last person who would have called the pediatrician on the first day of a cold, but not this year. She is the first person I called for direction and after his cough got worse, out of an abundance of caution, she sent us for a swab. The process where I live was easy. I called a number that is specifically set up for students. They gave me an appointment at 1.00pm that same day. The testing unit is set up in the hospital parking lot and we watched as they sanitized everything after the person in front of us. It took 10 minutes between filling out the paperwork and taking the swab and I was told the results would be sent directly to our doctor between 24-48 hours. Twenty-six hours, later the doctor called and, thankfully, the test was negative.
Since the test was negative and Emi still has a cough he will stay at home for at least one more day and we will visit the doctor, not just for a check-up but for the necessary paperwork to send him back to school. Is this all a bit of a pain in the butt? Yes indeed, but I think it is well worth it if it means getting back to our new normal.
As nothing I have written here is particularly interesting from a visual perspective I am adding a few pictures from the very minor outings, mostly walks we have taken over the last few weeks and hopefully leave you with a smile and a sense that there are good things yet to come.