Wednesday, April 22, 2020

New school rules

A number of friends who are teachers in other countries have been asking about the school reopening here, as their countries are yet to attempt any type of reopening, either because their local area has been worse hit than here, or because they locked down significantly later than us (or both of course, more than likely).

Obviously, I don't know many people here yet so I can only talk about my own kids' schools but in case any of what they are doing can be of use elsewhere, here's further elaboration on my post from Friday morning.

Over and above the measures I mentioned earlier, here is some of what Amaia's school is doing...

While her year and the other 'odd' year groups follow a timetable of one hour indoor lessons, one hour outdoor, and so on, the 'even' years are starting outside and doing the opposite, thus halving the number of kids coming in contact with each other at breaks.

As homework is not a big thing here, as in many Scandy countries in the younger age groups, pencil cases and the likes are often left at school on the desk. Kids then constantly share stationery. The new rule is that pencil cases have to go home and kids need to make sure they bring sharpened pencils, rubbers etc with them as sharing has been temporarily banned. They have also been given a spray to wipe down their tablets every hour (all kids here have a tablet or laptop to work on in their classroom as most work is typed, not like in Scotland where our school had tablets but not enough for more than one year group at a time). That's also how they managed to start online lessons with teachers from day one of lockdown. They simply sent them all home with a computer.

It's interesting to compare two (or more) school systems. I can see this approach that our school here is taking would struggle to work at their old school. It had such big classes and because the Scottish primary system has one main teacher to a class rather than designated subject teachers (in a more Scottish high school style) for the majority of the work. Because the Danish primary teachers can teach most things in our school but move about generally teaching specific subjects - eg Maths, English, German etc there are many more teachers so kids can be split into smaller classes.

Also Denmark is so much less into health and safety assessments and consent forms than Scotland, so our teachers can take the kids out three hours a day, around the village, into the woods etc at a whim. The risk assessment nonsense in Scotland would make that a non starter so instead they'll be trapped at home much longer, I expect. We are managing around ten kids to a classroom so they can easily reach have two metres around them.

So a normal day seems to consist of:

Get the bus, where the bus driver is cordoned off.
Arrive at school, wash hands, go to your desk - no more group singing sessions to start the day.
After an hour, go outside for an hour's outdoor schooling.
Wash you hands at the end of each period.
Come home.

Outdoor play now consists more of nature things, less of bats, balls and other physical toys.

Interestingly, seeing each other during the day has led to an increase in them wanting to play Minecraft or similar online together after school. Normally, I'd be the first to be jumping up and down if they're on their computer in this beautiful weather, but given they've been out so much earlier and given how good socialising online is for Amaia's confidence in Danish, I'll refrain from my usual grumping for now.

I just wish the other two could go back too. This isolation isn't doing wonders for Anna's Danish as her life has more or less reverted to English other than schoolwork, and although Léon is actually on 24/7 to friends so speaking it all day, he is visibly wilting in his isolation. It just isn't a way for him to thrive at all.

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