Post COVID-19: schools around the world are reopening

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Published 2020-05-26 10:00

Life is slowly getting back to normal in many countries around the world as the lockdown ends. Even though health risks relating to the COVID-19 pandemic are still real, schools have also started reopening, under certain conditions. Here's an overview of what's going on around the world.

Governments are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to ensuring the safety of children who are resuming school after spending the past few weeks in lockdown. Some of these measures are social distancing (one to two meters), the installation of protective barriers between desks, providing sanitisers at the entrance of schools, etc.

While schools in Italy are not likely to resume anytime soon, in other countries, like the USA where the COVID-19 death toll is nearing 100,000, education has almost become a debate. In short, the different states will have to assess the situation themselves before taking the necessary measures, even though the federal government advocates reopening the schools without further delay.

France is also playing safe following the panic caused by the reopening of schools on May 11. A new surge of COVID-19 cases was reported in departments like Toulouse, Villeneuve d'Asq, Gard and Charente -- which lead to havoc. Many schools were forced to close down once again. However, it' worth noting that the school year is ending on July 4. More and more parents who are still working from home are choosing homeschooling.

Elsewhere in the world

As expected, the reopening of schools in China early last month took place in very strict conditions. In Shanghai, for example, students and the staff had to enter the school premises through a thermal scanner. Aside from a thorough cleansing of the schools, glass walls have been installed between canteen tables to ensure that no more than two children can sit and eat together. School walls have also been decorated with posters to sensitise children and teachers about health risks.

In the Netherlands, plastic shields have been installed around the school tables, and sanitisers are available at the entrance of each school.

Switzerland is also being extremely cautious even though classes resumed on May 11. For instance, the reopening of schools in different phases varies from one canton to another. It's worth noting that classes are being held in small groups, either in the morning or in the afternoon in some cantons, or every other day in others. Besides, students and teachers are required to respect social distancing (2 metres), even though it is not compulsory to wear masks. Also, distance learning is authorised for vulnerable children and those living with a vulnerable person provided they make an official request. Most canton, except for one, have decided that there would not be any written examinations until the end of the school year.

Phase-by-phase reopening

Denmark still fears a second wave of COVID-19. While schools and nurseries reopened in mid-April, many parents chose not to send their children to school. Distance learning and homeschooling are thus ongoing. What's more, taking into account social distancing regulations, most classes are being held outdoors.

In Australia, even though schools are resuming earlier than expected in some states, strict measures have been put in place. Students are allowed into class once a week on a staggered basis. In Victoria, secondary schools are open as from this week while in Melbourne, only the youngest will be allowed to school starting on June 9.

In the province of Quebec, in Canada, schools have been reopening in different stages starting on May 11. Child care and primary schools were the first to reopen, while secondary schools and universities are not expected to resume before the end of August. However, parents are free to choose whether to send their children to school or not.

Students and teachers in the UK are also preparing to return to school as from June 1st following the recent confirmation from Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Here again, schools are reopening in phases, starting with younger children, that is, from years 1 to 6. From June 15, only a quarter of students in years 10 to 12 will be allowed to resume physically in order to prepare for exams.