Coronavirus: what has the UK learnt from Denmark’s schools?
As countries around the world start reopening their schools as the peak of the virus has passed through, educators are looking to countries who have implemented innovative solutions to social distancing.
The Danish approach has been outwardly focused on transparency and communication. With the vice-president of the Danish Union of Teachers responsible for holding negotiations with teaching unions, to ensure they felt comfortable and educated about the plan they were putting in place.
Without communication, there’s speculation, which can lead to confusion and additional stress and worry.
We’re sharing some of the strategies Denmark has implemented to ensure parents, teaching staff and pupils can be confident in the knowledge their school is fully prepared.
There is a focus on realistic aims
There seems to be a focus on realistic aims and making children and staff feel as comfortable as possible when at school. This extends to no face masks or PPE but instead focuses on routine handwashing, isolation in groups and implementing social distancing where possible.
It’s easy to expect older children to embrace the social distancing in secondary schools, but in primary schools where children don’t understand the full extent of the virus, it’s difficult.
We’ve spoken with UK teachers to see how their strategies compare. Many primary schools have adopted a version of the ‘bubble’ system, where teachers and their small class (usually of 12 students) stay isolated from other ‘bubbles’ at all times.
Teachers are allowed short toilet breaks but are to sit and eat their lunch with their class. Which begs the question, are our teachers getting adequate breaks?
Consider moving classes outside
You might be surprised to learn that Denmark has similar weather patterns to the United Kingdom! Although this week the weather has been slightly warmer in Denmark, they have still witnessed heavy rainfall.
So, if your school has access to outside space – whether it’s sports fields or a playground, use these environments as your new classroom. With many schools already embracing gardening with their students – learning about ecosystems and the essential role insects play in maintaining ecosystems, it might be easier to enforce social distancing.
It has been reported that the virus is less likely to be caught outside. With inews reporting that ‘Jonathan Van-Tam, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, previously said the virus appears to spread less easily outdoors because of the ventilation factor.’
Teaching lessons outside could go some way to reducing staff, pupil and parental anxiety as we find a new ‘normal’.
Don’t underestimate the importance of communication
As we mentioned in our opening paragraphs, the Danish Union of Teachers were all privy to negotiations led by the vice-president of the union. He was adamant that teaching staff and other union members were going to leave the talks feeling comfortable and fully-informed about the plans and steps toward reopening their schools.
Communication shouldn’t just stop here. Everyone involved in your school; non-teaching staff, parents, carers, guardians and pupils, should all feel fully-informed. Communication apps can help you create instant communication between parents and schools. Send messages directly to parents – even if they don’t have the app downloaded.
Being able to communicate clearly and effectively with parents will ensure they’re kept in the loop. Sharing your social distancing strategies, so they feel confident your school is doing its utmost to keep their children safe is crucial to engaging parents through this difficult time.
We’re offering all schools a 30-day FREE trial of our app, see first-hand the positive impact this platform can have on your school.