Last year, Argentina kept the contagion relatively low in a strict lockdown that dragged on for months. It battered a weak economy and there was a harsh emotional toll on society.
Education has become a highly politicized issue in Argentina during the pandemic, with battle lines drawn over whether classrooms should remain open during another wave of COVID-19 infections or continue virtually, as they did for all of 2020. The dispute has gone all the way to the Supreme Court, which sided with the city of Buenos Aires when it refused to abide by a national government edict to shutter schools as infections rose. The COVID-19 crisis has exposed just how far the inequality gap reaches in education, pushing those who were already on the margins further out when learning requires technological tools they simply don’t have.
In between is Antonella. A 12-year-old girl living only 150 meters away from Buenos Aires. She is trapped in a political fight, and the result is that she cannot attend school. She’s lucky though, because her parents make sure she continues her studies and connects to her Zooms via her mother's mobile phone.
But she's isolated from her peers, she hasn’t seen any friends in the last year and a half. She keeps company with her 22-year-old sister, with whom she shares a room. When she goes for a walk, she sees kids her age attend school and meet friends, but that’s not her reality. She lives on the other side.
Antonella has very long hair, below her knees and has promised to cut it very short when school resumes.