From simple formalities such as using a face mask, completing daily temperature checks, taking weekly COVID-19 tests, and utilizing distance learning, countries worldwide have grappled with creating a safe environment for students to grow and prosper during peculiar times. In order to successfully begin this school year, innovative solutions that promote efficient learning have been crucial.
To build a comprehensive school plan, countries have had to take into account public health and COVID-19 case numbers as well as access to technology in remote communities. As such, some countries, including Italy and Germany, have decided to hold in-person school sessions, while others such as Mexico have resolved to largely continue online learning. In the U.S., in contrast, some communities have reopened their schools for in-person learning while others continue virtual instruction.
While Mexico has once again come to live with its “packed street markets… buzzing metro stations… [and] thronged sidewalks” (McDonald, 2020, para. 1), the country’s COVID-19 case numbers are still very high, so officials have decided to not allow schools to reopen in-class learning. Instead, officials chose to provide instruction via television and radio. This solution accommodates Mexico’s remote indigenous communities and the general lack of personal computers in homes throughout the country.
Countries such as Germany, which have suffered relatively low numbers of COVID-19 related fatalities, have resumed in-person lessons. They, too, have mandated wearing face masks and have enforced social distancing on school grounds. Officials have also made classes smaller and separated from one another in the hopes that if there was a new COVID-19 outbreak, it would be contained. Luckily, Germany’s rate of positive coronavirus tests has been under one percent.
In the U.S., many states have largely settled for distance learning due to the still-growing number of COVID-19 cases throughout the country, while other areas with lower case rates have decided to resume in-person learning or implement hybrid learning models with additional safety precautions. In Arkansas, Iowa, Florida, and Texas, officials have mandated the availability of part- or full-time in-person instruction.
In Italy, the government has made COVID-19 tests widely available to teachers. Students may attend classes in venues such as cinemas or church halls, allowing pupils to continue to socially distance. In Denmark and Australia, some children have lessons outdoors or staggered learning schedules. In China, hundreds of millions of students have returned to in-person learning, with many cities, including Shanghai, installing thermal scanners at school entrances.
Schools worldwide have applied out-of-the-box thinking and persevered in order to adapt to the world’s new reality. They have worked around the limits the virus has created while keeping their students’ learning in mind.