Schools Around the World Are Reopening: Here’s What That Looks Like


Schools Around the World Are Reopening: Here’s What That Looks Like

The CDC released guidelines for the US to reopen schools this week. This sent many parents and teachers into a panic as false and exaggerated requirements spread like wildfire on social media. While safely reopening schools will require many layers of new protocol, other countries have already transitioned students back into classrooms. This provides the US with examples to study over the summer. The countries are all following several common considerations: social distancing, temperature scans, face covering, and sanitization. Here’s how other countries are handling the reopening of schools.

China

China has gone back to school with extremely strict disinfecting procedures. Children pass through a series of disinfectant stations assembly line-style while wearing disposable masks, which are thrown away before entering the building. Not only are their hands sanitized, but also their clothing, backpacks, and shoes. Each child goes through an ozone machine and gets their temperature taken. All of this is done before a child even steps foot inside the school. Handwashing stations have been installed in all schools and most students are required to wash their hands hourly.

Schools have been allowed to create their own methods to obtain social distancing once students are inside. Some of the solutions include:

  • Turning desks into individual cubicles with plexiglass
  • Putting each child in a giant hat so they can’t get close to each other 
  • Requiring children to wear face shields
  • Reducing class size from 20 to 6 students
  • Holding class outside 
  • Assigning seats in the cafeteria
  • Closing cafeterias and having students eat at their classroom desks
  • Introducing isolation rooms for children who get a fever while at school

France

France has reduced class sizes to 10 children, eliminated cafeterias, and placed tape on floors to make sure desks are properly distanced. We spoke to Anaïs Issoire, a 5th-grade teacher in Lyon, France about some of the challenges she’s experiencing.

Play has taken a hit. Issoire reports while children are happy to be back at school, they are frustrated they can’t play together. They have to stay 6-ft apart even on the playground at recess. This makes it very difficult to throw a ball, run around or play games together. Even having conversations with friends is difficult with everyone distanced out.

Monitoring protocol takes time away from learning. “I feel good because I get to see my class, but also sad because it’s not the way I like to do my job. It has now become all about security and sanitation and not about learning and having fun anymore,” Issoire shares. 

It’s hard to understand the new reality until you’re living it. Issoire says sending your students and their parents photos of the new classroom set up and lists of protocols doesn’t really prepare them for the big change to what school used to be like. She says it’s something that has to be experienced to fully understand. She pledges to do her best to keep the kids busy and answer all their questions during this challenging transition. 

New Zealand

New Zealand schools have set up a “kiss and go” area for parents to say goodbye to their children without entering the school to help with social distancing. Luka teaches at an all-boys school and says they have tried to keep things as close to the way they were as possible. Differences include:

  • Staggered attendance. Most classrooms currently have 50%-70% of students attending with more being added each week.
  • Lunch has been reduced from 40 minutes to 20 minutes.
  • Assemblies are held via Google Meets with students watching from inside their classrooms.
  • Students must sanitize hands when entering and leaving the classroom each period.
  • Students are not allowed to leave the classroom during the period. No hall passes are permitted.

Vietnam

Students in Vietnam have returned to school after three months of online learning. Temperatures are taken before they enter the school, as well as throughout the day. Teachers keep a log of each student’s health conditions. Masks are worn at all times by everyone and hand sanitization stations are easily accessible and frequently used. Students are seated spaced apart. Vietnam has had no new cases of COVID-19 since returning to school using these new procedures. 

Norway

Norway did a staggered start beginning with younger students returning to school first. The reopening continued gradually by age level. Classroom sizes have been reduced to no more than 15 students with desks kept 6 feet apart. Most schools have shorter days now and operate on a rotating schedule of days in the classroom, days outside and days home learning distantly. 

Other schools around the world getting ready to reopen

Most US schools won’t attempt reopening until August or September. In the meantime, we can all watch teachers and students around the world to see how they are adapting to the new challenges of attending school in a pandemic. It’s a daunting process, but teachers are great adapting and kids are often incredibly resilient. It’s important to stay calm and wait to hear what policies your state and school district will be following before becoming panicked and overwhelmed. We’ll all find our footing once we get back to our classrooms. 

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Schools Around the World Are Reopening: Here’s What That Looks Like

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Rachael Moshman
Rachael Moshman, M.Ed. is a mom, educator, writer, and advocate for self-confidence. She’s been a teacher in classrooms of infants through adult college students. She loves pizza, Netflix and yoga.
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