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Covid-19 pandemic: How other countries are reopening schools

  • Published at 08:40 pm September 29th, 2020
School Srilanka
File photo: Students wearing protective face masks attend a maths lesson inside a class room, in Colombo, Sri Lanka on July 6, 2020 Reuters

Dhaka Tribune looks at some of the Covid-19 affected countries to see what steps they took before reopening schools

Many countries around the world are reopening educational institutions adopting different strategies after a long hiatus in the pandemic.

Physical classes have been suspended since early this year as schools were shuttered to prevent Covid-19 transmission. But as soon as the number of covid cases started nosediving, many countries opened their gates saying school closures were doing more harm than good, and evidence suggests that children are rarely affected or develop severe symptoms from Covid-19 infection.

Dhaka Tribune looked at some of the Covid-19 affected countries to see when and how these countries reopened their schools in the pandemic.

India

After six months of closure, neighbouring India decided to open schools in phases. Schools have been partially opened in some states of the country since September 21, but most are still closed. Schools have partially reopened for students of Class IX to XII.


Also Read - Children in rural Bangladesh suffering with no schools amid Covid-19 pandemic


At all times, teachers and students were asked to maintain a physical distance of six feet. Schools have to schedule activities and arrange seating plans accordingly. Use of masks has been made mandatory along with regular washing of hands with soap, even when hands are not dirty.

Pakistan

Thousands of schools and colleges have already reopened from September 15, ending a six month long closure due to the pandemic. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) have been prepared to ensure a safe teaching environment at educational institutions, although parents are highly concerned about the safety of their children.

Sri Lanka

The country fully reopened schools after a four month hiatus, as part of the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Schools reopened for students of certain grades in July but closed again after a few days following the threat of a fresh outbreak of cases. Classes however only resumed fully  from August.


Also Read - Dhaka schools: To open or not to open?


Desks in classrooms have been kept at a one metre distance and students were prohibited from using playgrounds or taking part in sports.

School canteens are not allowed to operate while schools with over 200 students were asked to operate classes on separate days.

USA

In the USA, schools were closed from the beginning of the pandemic, but all schools and colleges were asked to provide distance learning.

Schools in some states opened in July and August, and many states are still considering whether to hold classes physically or not.

In Arkansas, districts were required to open their schools as early as August 24 and as late as August 26. The District of Columbia Public Schools started to continue with distance learning for at least the first term of the 2020-21 school year, from August 31 through November 6.

In Florida, a state court judge on August 24 issued a temporary injunction blocking a state emergency order requiring all brick and mortar schools to open at least five days a week by August 31.

As a statewide district, Hawaii schools reopened on August 17. In Iowa, Governor Reynolds, overriding local decisions, ordered every student to spend at least half of their schooling inside classrooms on July 17.

In Vermont, schools reopened across the state on September 8, with districts offering “in-person,” “hybrid,” and “all-remote” options for students.

Brazil

After more than 130 days without classes, children returned to their classrooms from August. The decision of returning to in-person schooling in states across the country is accompanied by feelings of fear and uncertainty, since Brazil logged a huge number of cases and deaths due to the virus.

Spain

In Spain, schools reopened in early September amid many uncertainties. Dozens of schools registered fresh coronavirus cases during the first week of classes. Despite reporting virus cases among staff and students, schools have remained open.


Also Read - Why should schools in Bangladesh reopen next month?


Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told radio station SER that “zero risk doesn’t exist in terms of epidemiology, but there is one risk we can remove – the risk of social exclusion due to unequal learning environments.”

He believes that parents, children, and teachers can be sure they will be much safer in schools than in other places.

France

France is one of the earliest countries to reopen schools. As early as June, students returned to classrooms for mandatory in-person classes.

The government wants most students in their classroom to facilitate the return of parents to work. They also wish to curb a learning gap between high-income and low-income students that authorities believe worsened during the two-month lockdown in the spring.

Russia

In Russia, schools were closed and students attended classes online since the coronavirus pandemic swept the country in late March.

Schools reopened in September with masks and class limit precautions. Authorities have decided to quarantine children for two weeks if a classmate tests positive for the coronavirus.


Also Read - Educational institutions unlikely to reopen soon


To prevent another spike in cases, all teachers had to undergo mandatory virus tests before primary and secondary schools reopened on September 1. Temperature checks are conducted each morning and school schedules are amended to reduce student attendance at the same time.

Peru

Students in all grades were welcomed back to school on September 8, with half of the student body reporting to school, and the other half engaged in remote learning.

Dhaka Tribune researcher Syed Abdullah Al Ahsan contributed to this story

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