The Coronavirus pandemic brought all our lives to a standstill for months at end. Now, things are finally opening after months of quarantine, and children are set to start going to schools. However, back to school after Coronavirus isn’t going to be the same. Children are especially vulnerable to the virus and hence we need to be careful. The virus persists and we all need to be careful to keep children safe. Schools are adopting enhanced safety measures to reduce the chances of infection on school premises. Cues are taken from Asian countries that are reopening schools. This will help us understand what your children can expect when they re-join school in the coming months.
The new normal for back to school after Coronavirus
South Korean schools are set to open up after almost 3 months of closure due to the pandemic. However, things are not back to normal at all. When schools reopened on May 20, it was mainly the seniors in high school who came. All of them were wearing masks. Their temperatures checked upon entry. Nobody showing signs of fever or cough is allowed to enter school premises. The desks in classrooms are now placed further apart according to existing social distancing norms. South Korea can afford a return to some form normalcy since they have the situation under control. 11,100 cases of Coronavirus and 264 deaths are reported so far in South Korea.
Things, however, were not smooth in the city of Incheon which is close to South Korea’s capital Seoul. Just hours after reopening, all schools shot down again. Two children were found positive for Coronavirus and this prompted authorities to immediately close down the schools again. This incident shows that even a gradual reopening carries significant risk. All efforts can be derailed just quickly and hence constant vigil and caution are necessary. On May 21, a school quickly shut down again in the city of Daegu when a student was found Positive for Coronavirus.
On May 18, children started going to school again in New Zealand after almost 8 weeks. New Zealand has been lauded for its quick and efficient approach in tackling the pandemic. In some parts of Australia, schools are open and children are attending regularly.
China reopened its schools in March itself. China is the place where the Coronavirus outbreak started. About 40% of Chinese students are back at school as per the Xinhua state news agency.
Reopening schools is not an easy decision. It is impossible to keep them closed for too long but opening them could lead to a high spike in cases. Children with even barely noticeable symptoms can end up becoming super spreaders. South Korea plans to make schools completely operational by 8th June. Some schools are opting for shifting to online classes keeping the safety of students in mind.
As the countries finally get a grip on the rising number of cases, it is time for gradually reopening schools. Everyone should cooperate and abide by safety norms so that children in schools are safe and healthy.