How countries around the world are getting children back to school
Education has changed across the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic and how easily the coronavirus can spread. In the US, most schools will stay closed for the remainder of the academic school year. Plans for reopening later in the year are also uncertain, with recommendations such as social distancing, reduced hours, and prolonged dismissals. Schools in other countries, on the other hand, are starting to reopen their classrooms. In this Pacific Prime article, we’ll take a look at how countries around the world are getting children back to school.
Mandatory masks and other back-to-school measures
As some countries are starting to reopen their schools and campuses, extra measures are in place to minimize risk and ease the transition.
When schools in South Korea reopen, students will be returning at different times. While schools were supposed to reopen this week, the latest coronavirus cluster has pushed it back by another week. Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae said high school students in their third year will be the first to return. Allowing these students to return first would help them to make decisions regarding their college and career. Kindergartens, elementary schools, and middle schools will open later on.
Most students in Vietnam returned to class on May 4, 2020, following the flattening of the curve in the country. According to the Vietnam News Agency, the majority of 22 million students in Vietnam returned to campus after several months of closure. However, televised and online classes will continue with updated schedules and less in-person teaching. Similarly, schools in Austria will reopen with split classes on May 18. This means students will return to school every other day to allow for proper distancing.
Smaller class sizes
Since May 3rd, Israel has started a phased reopening of schools. The maximum limit of 15 students per classroom will be allowed until further notice. Schools in England will likely follow suit as well, according to a BBC report. If primary school children are to return to school before the summer holidays, it’s likely that class sizes will not exceed 15 pupils.
Spaced-out seating arrangements
As one of the first European nations to close schools, shops, and restaurants, Denmark has started to welcome children back into the classroom – making it the first European country on lockdown to do so. Desks are arranged in a way that ensures students sit at least two meters apart.
Meals in classrooms
Additionally, schools in Denmark are requiring students to eat in their classrooms instead of the cafeteria. Other schools around the world are likely to do the same in an attempt to prevent students from gathering in large groups. In late April, students at Dajia Elementary School in Taiwan ate their lunch on desks fitted with plastic dividers.
Older staff to work from home
The Australian government has requested older and vulnerable school community members to work from home when possible. Teachers aged 60 and older were advised to avoid classrooms even before schools in the country closed.
Distancing throughout school premises
Students in Germany were taught how to maintain social distancing in schools when they reopened on May 7. Social distancing is required for pupils both in and out of their classrooms. Some schools have also taped markers on the floors to help people maintain a safe distance and face the right direction. Likewise, micro-groups of students in Denmark have individual zones in the playground.
Social distancing headwear
Schoolkids in China are now wearing one-meter wide hats to help maintain social distancing in the classroom. The creative hats serve as a reminder for children to stay clear of each other.
Wearing masks seems to be the one thing that countries welcoming students and teachers back to campus have in common.
How infectious are children?
The question above is one that all countries are asking during this stage of the pandemic. While evidence suggests that adults are more likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19 than children, some children have become gravely ill while others have died. Transmission is another concern since children typically do not have symptoms and are less likely to be tested. In addition, it’s more difficult to see if and how they spread the virus.
While children are known for being spreaders of the common flu, time will tell if the same can be said for the coronavirus. Richard Pebody, the World Health Organization’s team leader for high threat pathogens, advice for school openings is this: “Do it very gradually and monitor the ongoing epidemiology very closely.”
Why reopening schools matters
Reopening schools is a crucial part of any plan to restore economies worldwide. After all, parents cannot return to work if schools are closed. The way that countries such as Denmark, Germany, and China have taken the lead by reopening schools during this stage of the coronavirus pandemic will offer insight for the remaining countries.
How Pacific Prime can help
Whether you are looking for insurance plans such as teacher health insurance, international health insurance, or family health insurance, Pacific Prime is here to help. As a global health insurance company, Pacific Prime can help you find the ideal plan for your needs, at a price that fits in your budget. Contact us to have any of your insurance questions answered or to receive a free, no-obligation quote today.
You can also check out our School Insurance guide for more information on the insurance options available for schools around the world.
When she’s not writing, she’s likely searching for a new restaurant or cafe to try, reading or doing yoga.
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