Coronavirus lockdown closures have impacted almost 70% of the world's student population, according to UNESCO. That's over 1.3 billion affected learners. Recently, some countries have started reopening schools, while others are in the planning process.
In the United States, education leaders and experts have been developing blueprints with reopening scenarios and advice. One thing is for sure; schools in the U.S. will be different when students return. Just how different is one of the biggest questions on the minds of parents, educators and students.
For schools around the world, proposed safety measures focus on everything from strict hygiene measures (including hand washing stations) to smaller rooms to encourage social distancing in the classroom. While the circumstances in each area are different, check out these five examples of school reopening strategies.
Huntington School, in York, in an effort to increase school hand washing stations, has converted its sports hall into a hand-washing zone. The chief executive of the Aspirations Academies Trust in the south of England, believes pupils could be washing their hands up to eight times a day, in addition to maintaining social distancing in schools, reports Schools Week.[i]
To help engage children in the hand washing process, the NSF Scrub Club offers worksheets, videos and activities to teach kids the proper way to wash their hands.
In Denmark, in an effort to reopen classrooms, schools have placed desks six feet apart and staggered student arrivals, among other measures, to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Children also line up in the morning next to traffic cones spaced 6 feet apart. In Norway, in an effort to increase social distancing in schools, the government has urged schools to divide classes into groups of no more than 15.[ii]
At the Copenhagen International School, only five children are allowed on the playground at one time. Administrators have made up a new game for the kids to play while staying 6 feet apart. It's called shadow tag, and it involves kids "tagging each other's shadow, so they're not touching."[iii]
Reducing Human Contact
In Chicago's Arbor Park School District, the tech team tweaked their smart locker workflow to enable a no-contact pickup location for replacement devices. Just like an Amazon locker, a FUYL Tower was relocated to a publicly-accessible location within the school. Parents can place tech orders from the district's ecommerce site, and the school fulfills the order by placing it in a FUYL Tower compartment. Parents follow simple email instructions to unlock and pick up their requests from their assigned FUYL Tower locker number the following day.
Under California's reopening guidelines, schools would likely implement zero-touch technology screening of staff and students before they enter campus. "A big part of what we'll do is taking temperatures at school and in some cases asking parents to take it before they leave home," states Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.[iv]
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[i] Long read: How are schools preparing to reopen? – Schools Week
[ii] COVID-19: Countries around the world are reopening their schools – World Economic Forum
[iii] 9 Ways Schools Will Look Different When (And If) They Reopen – NPR
[iv] California students to wear masks, get daily temperature checks – Politico