DETROIT – At one point, more than 90% of the world’s schools were partially or fully closed because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but now, many are starting to reopen.
While most schools in the United States are shifting into summer vacation mode, many nations around the world have reopened their classrooms.
So far, about 40% of the world’s schools have reopened, but it hasn’t been easy. New restrictions are evident, and some parents are still choosing to keep their children home.
In Belgium, children start the day with a temperature check. Teachers and staff members wear masks, but the students don’t.
There’s plexiglass around the teachers’ desks and lines on the floor to mark off safe spacing.
In Japan, students headed back to school carrying umbrellas and wearing masks. Arrival times have been staggered. Class hours are shortened.
In China, masks and temperature checks are mandatory. Older students practiced a drill to clear the classroom if anyone is found to have a fever.
In France, lunch is still in the cafeteria, but children are sitting two to a table. Desks are spaced out in classrooms, and students use their own materials instead of sharing.
One school cut the number of students it could accept to meet social distancing standards.
In Norway, hand sanitizer dispensers were installed on playground trees. Children spend the day in groups of three or six, depending on age.
Officials said they’re trying to balance the risks of the virus with the benefits of social development.
Norway was among the first in Europe to reopen, going back in late April. So far, health officials said they haven’t seen a negative effect on the number of coronavirus cases.
In South Africa, schools were being sanitized to reopen, but both teachers and parents expressed concerns.
“I’m definitely very much worried about the safety of my kids,” parent Ali Sikele said. “I’m trying everything to keep my kids safe at home, but I don’t know what will happen at school. That’s my main worry.”
South Korea reopened schools, but hundreds recently closed again after a new cluster of cases.