Alastair Blyth, Principal Lecturer at the School of Architecture and Cities, co-wrote an article for OECD Education and Skills Today about how to reopen schools after the coronavirus pandemic.
In the article, Alastair Blyth and co-author Julie Velissaratou explained some of the strategies that countries are having to consider to get schools up and running after lockdown. The article draws upon their work with the OECD Group of National Experts on Effective Learning Environments.
According to UNESCO 1.5 billion students worldwide are affected by school closure. Blyth and Velissaratou wrote that although countries are at different stages in the pandemic the right time to open schools is still difficult to determine. They wrote: “There is no one-size-fits-all solution and a lot will depend on how the coronavirus pandemic has affected individual countries and their resilience.”
Blyth and Velissaratou explained: “Three areas of focus are dominating decision-makers’ discussions about post-pandemic physical learning environments: encouraging new hygiene habits; enabling social distancing in schools; and strengthening online learning.”
In terms of physical space and keeping students at least two metres (about six feet) away from each other and teachers will be hard. They wrote that: “This is not easy for young children and impossible for a class of 30 students in a standard-sized classroom of 60m2.”
They also found that although access to online resources has doubtless helped many students at home, those with little or no access to online resources have been disadvantaged. This is perhaps one of the most vexed questions that schools and countries will face.