As schools all over the world gear up to reopen in the fall, many countries are still trying to figure out how to properly implement health and safety procedures while giving kids a sense of normalcy. The whole concept of reopening schools has been controversial to say the least, as many parents are concerned that kids aren’t going to be closely monitored enough, which will likely lead to massive spikes in case numbers.
Many countries around the world have already begun their 2020-21 school year with new safety measures put into place to help avoid a resurgence in cases, here’s what some are doing:
In France, there’s recently been a massive resurgence in case numbers already, so when it came to reopening schools the government knew it would have to issue out a heavily detailed list of procedures to be put into place. These procedures include requiring all children in secondary schools to wear face coverings at all times when in school and on the playground. Originally France has a class size restriction for the year, however, they now claim that there are no limits and social distancing in the classroom is advised, but not mandated.
Poland plans to begin reopening their schools next week after being shut down since March. Late last week, however, the country saw a record high number of single-day new infections. When it comes to school policies, the government seems to be relatively relaxed about what they will be requiring of students. Mask wearing is not being mandated by government officials, but instead will be up to individual principals to decide.
Belgium currently has one of the world’s highest death rates from Covid-19, and as a result they’ve looked into the best ways to run their schools this fall. Schools will begin reopening on September 1st, and all children aged 12 and up will be required to wear masks; teachers and other staff members will also be required to do so.
Germany had many schools in Berlin reopen two weeks ago, which has already led to several dozen of them closing down due to new spikes in infections. Officials have claimed that the transmission of Covid-19 is believed to have occurred outside of the school setting, however, that doesn’t make it any less risky to remain open. The cases so far are more so isolated incidents, but bigger outbreaks are still a major concern. German schools in general are run at a regional level, so it’s up to each individual district to require facial coverings and social distancing procedures.
In South Korea they struggled to reopen their schools while maintaining proper health measures, so they’ve delayed reopening multiple times. They have begun phasing in different age groups back into the schools, however, a recent resurgence in cases have caused them to shut down indefinitely.
Denmark surprisingly reopened their schools back in April by separating younger children into “micro-groups” of 12 or less. School starting times have been staggered for different groups, and desks are being kept 6 feet away from each other. In May, kids aged between 12-16 were able to return to school as well, as the country has maintained a relatively low number of cases and new infections.
Israel is another country that’s been able to manage it’s initial outbreak of the coronavirus. They did such a successful job that they were able to reopen schools in May, sending back kids with limited classes and in small groups, similar to Denmark. Within the past couple of months, the country lifted class size restrictions and informed all students that they could return back to school. However, this led to a resurgence of the virus, and many students have been forced back into virtual learning and a life of quarantine.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.