A teacher in China describes what post-lockdown school reopening looks like

Parents who have been home with their school-age children for weeks and will most likely remain that way until next school year may be wondering what school will even look like when it finally resumes. With the coronavirus pandemic sticking around for the foreseeable future, we clearly can't go back to packed buses and classrooms, school assemblies, close contact sports, etc.

So what will school look like post-lockdown?


A teacher living and working in Hangzhou, China shared a description on Facebook that might offer some clues. Michelle Lomabardi Henry works at Wahaha International School and explained how life has changed for students, teachers, and administrators after a 14-week pandemic shutdown.

"Many of my teacher friends have been curious about life in school after COVID19," wrote Henry. "So, I thought I would explain it in detail once."

First, she described the phased approach to kids returning, with different grades coming back at different times.

"We were out of school a total of 14 weeks, 3 of which were planned Chinese New Year break. The first week, April 13th, all teachers were called back to learn the new protocols in place while continuing online learning. The 2nd week, grades 4-8 were called back, and today is the 3rd week with K-3 joining us. Having the kids come back in stages allowed us to practice protocols without full traffic in the building."

Then she explained the temperature and mask protocols:

"Each morning before we get to school, we need to send in our temperature and verify we have no symptoms. When we get to school we go through a face recognition scan that records our temperature again. We take our temperature for the 3rd time by lunch. Masks on campus are optional now and there are special trash cans for masks on each floor."

Finally, she described what life in the classroom is like:

"In the classrooms, desks are in rows 1 meter apart. Kids get up one at time to do anything. Specialist are doing lessons in the classroom, unless the class has 10 or less students then they can do it in their own room. Each student has their own supplies and they do not share. Four times a day, at scheduled times kids get their hands sanitized with a chemical free spray (Enozo). All afterschool activities, as well as any meetings, assemblies or other crowd gathering events are cancelled. Kids still have recess but are encouraged to keep their distance from one another….not happening. This is very difficult, especially in the younger grades, as you know. Dismissal is in stages and from two locations on campus."

Henry also explained how the school is disinfected by cleaning staff several times a day, and how they use UV lights overnight to destroy any residual virus on surfaces. She says if they have even one case, she imagines they'll have to shut down again.

One of the most striking photos Henry shared is one of children eating lunch at separate tables, spaced apart.

Michelle Lombardi Henry/Facebook

Seeing desks in a classroom spread apart is one thing, but seeing kids separated during lunch, when they would normally be able to socialize with friends, just tugs at the heartstrings.

At least one school, also in Hangzhou, have young kids wearing homemade social distancing hats as a reminder to keep their distance from one another. The same thing could undoubtedly be accomplished simply by kids lifting their arms and staying far enough way not to touch, but anyone who's worked with kids knows what an impossible task that would be.

Primary school in Hangzhou lets children wear "1m hats" to enforce social distancing measures www.youtube.com

The silly hats are a fun visual reminder for kids to leave space between one another—and also a strangely haunting reminder of the serious reality we've found ourselves in.

It's hard to say what will be happening in August or September, when most schools in the U.S. are scheduled to start the next school year. When—or if, perhaps—schools do resume in the fall, these posts give us clues as to the kinds of protocols and provisions our kids may be experiencing.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less