"I can only say BRAVO to them all !"
Friday 11 September 2020
Caritas Luxembourg, through Caritas Jeunes & Familles, manages a whole series of maisons-relais. A few days before the start of the school year, interview with Pascale Lies-Schmit, director.
HOW DO THE MAISONS-RELAIS PREPARE FOR THE START OF THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR?
We have implemented all the recommendations of the Ministry of National Education, Children and Youth and the Ministry of Health regarding Coronavirus for a long time now. The maisons-relais have been in operation all summer long and also before the holidays. Moreover, two of our maisons-relais remained open during the hardest period of confinement to welcome the children of the health and care staff. On September 15, it will be for us a kind of "third" back-to-school in a few months. At each new stage, we prepared ourselves as best we could and integrated the experience of the stage before. Over the last few months, we have learned a lot, exchanged regularly between Caritas Jeunes & Familles maisons-relais and integrated the best practices of each one. For the start of the new school year on 15 September, what changes is that the children that we will welcome in our maisons-relais will have even more contacts than before. We must therefore be even more cautious, even though the means (staff and rooms) at our disposal are the same as before the sanitary crisis. This is a real challenge, but we remain confident because we can rely on the experience, common sense and flexibility of our staff.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE REACTION OF THE CHILDREN IN RECENT MONTHS?
The children have simply been 'great'. We, adults - parents, teachers, educators - asked them so many things and they participated without discussion. I can only say BRAVO to them all.
On the other hand, we have also seen in the last few weeks that the children are more and more conditioned by the Coronavirus and the safety measures even though we are trying in our structures to make them forget it as much as possible. They startle as soon as another child comes closer to them, no longer dare to touch each other, can no longer read the expressions on other people' faces, etc... It is important for their development that children learn to understand other people's emotions and to express their own. It is on this emotional aspect that we will be working with the children as a priority in the coming months. A fair balance between hygiene measures and the expression of emotions must be possible.
AND HOW DID THE EDUCATIONAL STAFF EXPERIENCE THE SITUATION?
Initially, there was a great fear among our staff of transmitting the Coronavirus to the children. But as time passed and measures were taken, this fear faded away. Moreover, the fact that they could be tested regularly reassured them. Today, they are much more at ease and know that in the case of a problem, there is a procedure in place. They have continued to keep in touch with the children and their parents in order to make it easier for the children to return back. They also started very early to prepare for the return of the children. Finally, many did not hesitate to help out other structures that were understaffed.
What is certain is that everyone is looking forward to the start of the school year and to seeing the children who have not yet returned to their maisons-relais since the confinement. They have missed the children very much!
A big thank you to all those who have made it possible that everything is going well so far in our maisons-relais: staff, children, parents and also to the Young Caritas volunteers who came to help from May onwards. THANK YOU!