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What School Looks Like In ReOpening Countries
posted by: Melissa | May 07, 2020, 06:16 PM   

In most places in the U.S., schools have conceded the school year, announcing that they will remain closed. However, in countries where Coronavirus hit sooner, some schools are beginning to reopen. By looking at those schools, we can get an idea about what our own school days might look like in September. 


Denmark was the first country to reopen its schools in mid-April. They began with the youngest students who were struggling the most with distance learning and the most likely to need supervision if a parent worked. Parents had to drop their children off outside the building. Inside, desks were spaced far apart, and neither teachers nor students were allowed to gather in groups. Additionally, classes took a break once an hour to wash hands. Lunches are eaten in the classroom and students weren’t allowed to play with students from other classes during recess. To keep groups small, the number of classes were increased with assistants stepping up to lead small groups of students.


In China, high school students returned to class first, with middle and elementary schools opening later on. Arrivals were staggered, to keep students from showing up at the same time and crowding the entrance. They were required to wear masks and have their temperature checked. Once inside, desks were only moderately spaced, but in some schools, plastic partitions have been used to help prevent the spread of the virus.


Germany is the most recent country to reopen schools. With final exams looming, high schoolers returned to prepare for and take the exams. Educators worried that if high school students didn’t return to school, they wouldn’t be motivated to study for the high-stakes exam, which would put their futures at risk. Students wore masks, disinfected their hands, and sat at desks spaced far apart. Younger students will also return to school in the coming months.

In the U.S., we’re still figuring out what a return could look like. Many decisions will likely be dictated by how the virus progresses over the summer months and the outcome in states where stores have begun to reopen. However, plans by the CDC, AEI, and AFT all offer a glimpse into the types of decisions U.S. schools may make.

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