Life in France During the Coronavirus Pandemic
By Liam Smyth, 27/3/20
Despite being quite tired of discussing the ongoing pandemic that is keeping us out of school, when asked to write an article for our yearbook, I thought it would be interesting to contact some of Kilkenny College’s friends in France to see what life is currently like for them over there.
I contacted four friends of mine, Jeanne Caillaud and Alexis Gascogne, both students who spent three weeks with us in Kilkenny College. I also contacted Anais Pauleau and Coralie Renaud, two students I met while on an exchange in France. I asked the four of them the same six questions, as I felt it would be the easiest way to see the variations in each person’s perspective.
- Q: What do you think of the homework you are given each day? Do you find that teachers give you too much to do?
Jeanne (15): Yes, I find that we have a lot of homework, and I think that the teachers don’t really realise how difficult it is to work from home and to organise ourselves….
Alexis (16): The teachers give us quite a lot of work to do, and some are nicer than others!
Anais (15): I find that the work we receive is sufficient, however it is really up to each student to continue their work and to keep on top of things.
Coralie (15): The teachers didn’t give us too much homework during the first week, but have been gradually increasing the amount they set.
- Q: Do you believe that it was difficult for students and teachers to start working online, were there any problems at the beginning?
Jeanne: We had a few issues when we started out using the system, as everyone tried to connect to the server at the same time. However, it’s much better now and it’s very easy to find our homework online.
Alexis: There were some issues at the beginning, and I find it quite difficult as there are no teachers available to explain work to me in person.
Anais: Not really, we’re pretty used to getting on with things ourselves. There were a few technical issues but that is to be expected, and they were solved quickly.
Coralie: During the first week, the school server was extremely slow as everyone tried to log on at the same time, but the issue is fixed now. We had an issue last Tuesday where all the folders in the cloud had been deleted. Some teachers have handled it very well, such as my economics teacher, who has made a YouTube account to teach his students. Others, however, struggle a lot more with the technology.
- Q: Normally, are you busy every day? Do you have to find things to occupy yourself with?
Jeanne: My homework takes quite a bit of time, but other than that, I treat this time off as if they were holidays, to be honest. I play the piano, play games with the family, watch Netflix… I’m not really bored, honestly.
Alexis: Yes, I’m very busy everyday doing homework. Otherwise, I spend a lot of time outside or playing video games.
Anais: I’m constantly kept busy. I have at least two or three hours work to do for each subject, and I can watch a series on Netflix or read a book if I finish early.
Coralie: I’m busy all the time. I do the work the teachers give us, I play the clarinet and do some music theory. I garden, play with my sister and also do a bit of reading.
- Q: We have heard in Ireland on the news that fines are in place in France if someone leaves their house to do things that aren’t necessary. What do you think of these fines?
Jeanne: Exactly. We have to fill out a form saying where we are going, and why. We are only allowed out for an hour at a time. I believe that the fine is around €130 for each offense. I think they’re great, as they really encourage people to stay indoors and listen to the government’s advice.
Alexis: The fines are fair, if I’m honest. I think they provide an incentive for people to stay indoors, as the threat of getting sick is often not enough to keep people inside, particularly amongst younger people.
Anais: When we put things into perspective, the fines aren’t that expensive. We still see people that go out to do whatever they want, ignoring advice, and yet they still complain when they get sick. It’s completely their fault, as the government has put everything they can in place to protect the public, yet some people still seem to find the need to go out for unnecessary things.
Coralie: I think that the fines are a good idea and cause people to become more aware of the harm they might be causing by going outside at the moment. It allows the police to punish those that ignore advice, putting others in danger.
- Q: Can you explain to me how the police know whether someone is leaving their house out of necessity or not?
Jeanne: We have to sign a form, explaining why we’re going out, where we’re going etc. For example, when going to play sport, we aren’t allowed to travel more than 1km and must be back home within the hour.
Alexis: The police are very strict when it comes to checking the paperwork a person takes out of the house with them, and that must be filled out correctly in order to fully prove that that person has a reason to be out and about.
Anais: We have paperwork to fill out when we want to leave the house, we have to present them at a checkpoint as if we were presenting a driving licence, it’s basically to get authorisation to be out in public.
Coralie: To go out we have to have an approved form that has been filled out. We also have to have identification with us. This is usually enough to prove a person’s reason for being outside. We also of course have to rely slightly on a person’s moral compass, and to trust that the public will be honest with the government!
- Q: Are rules in place in shops that remain open to protect those who go shopping?
Jeanne: Yes, there are rules in place. Grocery shops, even the massive ones, only allow five people to enter the shop at one time. Employees there are very well protected, wearing masks, gloves etc. Tills are disinfected after every customer, and customers must remain at least 5 metres apart from each other at all times.
Alexis: There are. The workers in the shop wear masks and gloves, and customers must keep a safe distance between each other.
Anais: We have to enter the shops in small groups, and buy any necessities. We don’t go out to buy a few bags of sweets, it must be for worthwhile and necessary purchases.
Coralie: We have to queue outside the shop and we are let in in small groups. We wait until a person leaves and then another person is let in. We are made wait in lines at safe distances from each other. In the villages around France, the weekend markets have all been cancelled, except in special cases that are requested by that village’s mayor.