Social-distancing at an early age

ChalkSquare cover
Images adapted from: Internewcast and @lioneltop 

On our first day of school, our parents taught us to play and share things with other children if we wanted to make friends.

However, the pandemic has turned this upside down and today’s children are learning to play together separately as schools reopen with safety measures.

Teachers juggle between teaching and safety

France announced schools were to reopen on 11th May, with both parents and teachers expressing concerns that it might not be the best time to reopen.

Image credit: @lioneltop

Children walk into a classroom one by one where tapes forming borders between spaced-out. The number of students per classroom had to be halved to make it safe. But the classroom was not the only place where social-distancing is enforced.

Children play together in separate chalk squares to keep social-distancing at a nursery in Tourcoing, France
Image credit: @lioneltop

On the playground, children sat in their own chalk squares and played without physical contact. It’s an unusual sight for those who grew up playing contact sports and jungle gyms with other kids during recess.

Concerns between education and growth

Image credit: Internewcast

Some believe children playing in groups is important to their growth, and social-distancing makes that impossible. Others felt it was necessary to teach them safety measures at a young age if schools were to reopen sooner.

Teachers expressed concerns about reopening schools too soon as they didn’t have enough equipment like masks and disinfectant wipes to prepare the children for school.

With classrooms designed without spacing in mind, teachers will have to “reinvent the school” if they want to teach the children safely. Younger children may not understand why the schools enforce social-distancing either.

A mother believed it was too disruptive for schools to teach effectively, saying “They’ll spend most of their time washing their hands and practicing sanitary measures. It’s far from ideal.”

There are currently around 178,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in France, ranking at the 7th highest worldwide.

The children are our future

Education is important for children, but so is their social development.

It’s unclear how the “new normal” will affect the children, so it’s important to make them understand why things are the way they are right now.

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