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School re-opening lessons from other countries

School reopening lessons from other countries

August 16, 2021

While several state governments vacillate on the issue of re-opening schools – India has closed its schools for the longest duration in the world (69 weeks) – several countries around the world have re-opened their schools for in-person classes. 

Here are some experiences of how countries such as Singapore, Sweden and Denmark reopened schools safely for students and teachers.

Prioritising students

1.Singapore: Asked graduating students to return to schools and prepare for national exams

2.Sweden: Kept its pre-primary and primary schools open with safety measures throughout the pandemic

3.Tunisia, Sierra Leone, and Malawi: Students who will appear for exams are being given weeks of remedial learning.

4. Denmark: Schools were opened for (infants 0-5 years old) and for children aged 6-12.

Health and Hygiene protocols

1.Algeria, Belize, Botswana, Cambodia, Cameroon, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mexico, Tanzania, Ukraine: These countries are cleaning up schools and disinfecting, improving handwashing facilities, provision of cleaning and hygiene supplies to schools, and health checks.

2. Tajikistan and Singapore: Face masks compulsory by all students and staff. To support teaching with masks on, microphones have been provided to teachers in Singapore.

Measures to reduce physical contact and limit transmission

1. Bangladesh, Madagascar, and Senegal: Physical cues to encourage distancing, including marks on the ground and seating arrangements in classrooms and on transport 

2.Singapore, United Kingdom and some places in Canada: Using the concept of ‘classroom bubbles’ to limit student interaction across groups and limit closures to individual ‘bubble’ if infection detected.

3.China, Italy, Japan, and Scotland: Temporary teachers are supporting smaller groups

4.Rwanda: Buliding new classrooms, recruiting more teachers

5. Afghanistan, Brazil, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Madagascar, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Senegal and Vietnam: Hybrid learning, smaller in-person classes, staggered school days, weeks, breaks, and classes in shifts or reorganized groups.

6. Denmark: Using outdoor space museums and sports halls to ensure safe distancing beyond physical school spaces.

Restoration of other services such as vaccines and school feeding

1.Côte d’Ivoire, Nicaragua and Somalia: Restored access to school meals

2.Guatemala and Peru: Introduced take-home rations

Critical communications and outreach

1.Myanmar: Translated and adapted parenting education tips for COVID-19 response into 25 ethnic languages to support parents coping with stress and encouraging them to spend quality time with their children.

2. Jamaica: The country has established 30 regional parent helplines to guide parents through the process of returning to school.

3. Indonesia, Niger and Tanzania: These have introduced measures to ensure that refugees receive information about school openings in languages that they speak.

Source: UNICEF

Also Read: School reopening status across India (August 2021)

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