Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Day 42 - Confinement - Lockdown in France - Update on life and when we might slowly return to normal...

Update - Confinement/Lockdown- 7th week

It's now been 6 weeks that we have been in strict confinement here in France - I know the last time I wrote - we were waiting to hear about a possible extension & yes, as we thought- the confinement was extended until at least May 11.  But they very quickly added that on May 11, we would not be returning to life as it was - it will be a progressive return to life and definitely different than before.

This state of strict confinement is definitely getting long.  We all have good days and bad days.  Often all feels okay, it's fine and in other moments - it's just so very tiresome!!  How many times can I rearrange my cupboards, clean the refrigerator, search new recipes to try or pull weeds out of the garden?  .  We choose to go out as little as possible, in France the saying is "Restez chez vous" (Stay home).  Yes, I take my walks but for this past week, it's been rainier and colder and frankly, I have had little motivation to go out and even though the days pass - it's frankly getting quite long.  I miss getting out and about.  Socializing or even just wandering around the city.  The big outing last week was to shop at our local warehouse store and I picked up items for my neighbors.  This meant I could deliver and talk to them for a few minutes outside - keeping our social distance.  It's amazing when you are so use to interacting with people, how much you actually miss it when you can't.  I adore my neighbors - we are all around the same age with children about the same age - so it's nice to catch up and chat a bit.  It's different in person versus Zoom or messaging.  I am a social person - I enjoy interacting with people, it gives me energy.  I miss my job, I miss my clients.  I miss showing and touring the region.

I have done projects that I have put off for years - cleaning out personal papers, re-arranging cabinets, cleaning numerous times.  I have enjoyed trying out new recipes.  Lots of people have said that they have had confinement projects, and yes, I made some masks and I've organized things - but it's getting tiresome.  I am so ready to return to life.


But they say here, life won't be as we knew it before.  The government is working on a deconfinement  plan - phasing in re-openings and returning to work/normal life.  Returning to school for the children is also part of this plan...but all will be phased in slowly. Slowly.. They have already announced that most stores can re-open on May 11 with safe sanitary measures in place - social distancing, anti-bacterial gel,  & masks (if needed). But restaurants and bars will remain closed for a while longer.

The wearing or not wearing of masks has been a big debate here in France.  Is it really that helpful in the general public, especially if you keep your social distance?  Do people know how to appropriately wear them?  As there has been a shortage, how does the country insure that all people have them?  We have listened and watched the media reviewing all of these questions and more.  So far in France, they have announced that masks will be required when riding public transportation. Cities and towns have ordered reusable masks for their populations to be distributed within the next weeks or so. 

May 11 also marks the re-opening of schools - but this is still to be organized.  This is a very heated topic in France as many parents, teachers & doctors are not in favor of this and would prefer that schools wait until September to re-open.

But here is what has been laid out so far by the government regarding schools:

All schools will be thoroughly disinfected before opening.

Class sizes will be limited to 15 students with social distancing measures put in place.

The details on what this will look like or how this will be done will be up to each School. Not all schools will open at the same time - levels and grades will be phased in:

May 11th
The date when children in three year groups - grande section (US-Kindergarten, 5-6 year olds), CP (first year of école primaire, 6-7 year olds- US-1st Grade) and CM2 (last year of école primaire, 10-11 year olds-US 5th grade) will return to school.
May 18th.
From May 18th secondary school pupils in 6e (11-12 year olds-US -6th grade), 3e (14-15 year olds- US 9th grade) and lycéens (high schoolers) in the second and third years (Première and Terminale- US- 11th& 12th grade) will be able to return to school.
May 25th.
The week the remaining classes go back to school.

Parents can choose to keep their children at home as long as distance-learning modules can be maintained.

Universities and Post-Secondary studies will remain closed until September.

Use of masks are probable but no firm decision has been declared yet.

There are still many questions from many parents and teachers as to what this will really look like in each school.  Normal class sizes runs between 30-35 students in many establishments. Class sizes in the lower grades are also as high as 25 - so how will the limit of 15 be met?  Can we really expect children, especially young children to keep proper social distancing from their friends?  Again so many questions and not a lot of answers yet.

The girls are anxious to return to school, see their friends and get out of the house.  All of this is normal but life will not return to what it was - not yet in any case.  Still so many questions.

In any case, we continue to receive information regarding exactly how things will work when the lockdown is lifted.  Early on we watched a lot of news regarding the epidemic and especially how it affected France and the United States.  But recently it's been media overload and we have cut back on our viewing.  We listen for the highlights and read papers/news when we want.  In these days and times, my phone will send notifications when a big news happens.  This allows me to relax and enjoy my days and not get too worried about what is to come.

We still have a 2 weeks before the magic date of May 11, but I know May 11 will not mean life as it was - it will not be the same as before...it will be different.  This date may also be pushed out further depending on the statistics of the virus.

So we wait to get more information.  In the meantime, it's life confined at home.....
I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe.

Score some oysters from Cap Ferret - delivered directly to the house!! Yum!!!

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