Many European center-left politicians supported reopening schools — as early as spring 2020 — despite significant coronavirus transmission and suboptimal buildings.
A New York Times story published Monday reignited a heated debate among Americans about the political consequences of extended school closures and pandemic mandates. In this piece, I don’t want to dive into that debate, which has sometimes framed demands to reopen schools or lift mask mandates as racist or right-wing, but instead point out that, in many European countries, it was center-left politicians — identifying as social democrats or socialists — who championed reopening schools and a return to normalcy for children.
One of the most prominent European socialists to celebrate reopening schools — and someone who did so in a city with antiquated and crowded school buildings — was Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, a darling of the American Left for her efforts to remove cars from Paris and a recent presidential candidate. On May 14, 2020, the socialist mayor tweeted a thread noting that 92 percent of Paris schools were reopening in an “important first step for our city.”
After the summer holiday, Hidalgo returned to social media on September 1st in order to “wish a great start to the new school year to the young Parisians who are going back to school this morning.”