doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

A look at re-opening

So, the Premier has indicated that the Minister of Education will announce what the province has in store for day cares and schools at a news conference on Tuesday. There goes the conspiracy thoughts that it would be announced this afternoon. (Remember I write and then schedule my posts…)

One thing we know for sure is that schools will open. The question remains when and in what fashion.

Here in Canada, we saw some schools in Quebec take first steps. There was a great deal of news coverage of the limited success that they had. Quebec was not the first to pull the trigger; Denmark went before them. Details can be read in this article.

Life in Danish primary schools 4 weeks after reopening
10 ways a Danish school made social distancing work

There are many who are advocating that school be delayed opening until the fall. There are those that want to start the opening process now. There are convincing arguments on both sides of the discussion.

One of the things that I find disturbing are those that want to delay so that things can go back “to normal”. From where I sit, that is just a fantasy. I think we know, or should know, that normal won’t be like it was pre-March. To even fantasize anything else is just unrealistic.

It saddens me to read the learning conditions in the Danish primary school. Getting together on the mat is part of every kindergarten program. Play based education, collaborating with classmates, and sharing are the cornerstones of what we currently think about when we think of this age group.

Those that yearn for the good old days are going to get their wishes answered if we learn from the Danes. Students sitting at desks at a distance from classmates will be the new norm. There will be a scramble to find desks was my first reaction. Dining at desks and managing garbage will become major class management concerns.

The biggest hit will be all the research into things we take for normal. From play, collaboration, sharing, making, constructing, recess, going to the library, going to the gym … we will turn to a more traditional approach. Yes, there will be those who will plan to try and replicate the good things but there will be so many blocks in the road.

I continue to think of the points I mentioned in this post and the wisdom shared by those who added additional things to consider.

I’m also fearful that the decision to open schools lies with the government with no input from classroom teachers and assistants. I’ve said many times that you can’t just flip a switch. I’m heartened that the Premier seems to be OK with hurrying up and going slow. Hopefully, the wisdom of doing this will allow good teachers and principals to really think through the logistics of making it happen.

In the meantime, we can learn from the Danish school in the article. Is this how your classroom will end up? Are there different solutions that you see that they have overlooked?


6 responses to “A look at re-opening”

  1. This whole thing terrifies me, Doug! I just try to remind myself of the fact that when we first heard school was going online, I questioned if we could ever facilitate a play-based kindergarten program in this way, and we have. It’s not perfect, and it’s not the same as our program back at school, but in its own way, it’s something great. My hope/dream/wish is that when we do go back, if restrictions are still in place, my worries of “it won’t work” will somehow be replaced with how it can. My biggest concern is enforcing social distancing for 4-6 year olds in a school setting, as developmentally, they need and seek that touch/contact. After being away from the classroom for months, they might even need this physical closeness more than ever before. Can we stop this? I truly wonder …



  2. I think your concerns are really valid, Aviva. Playing kind of works now because there really isn’t another option. Back at school, teachers will understand what can and cannot happen and they’ll have a big rule book from Health and Safety, I’m sure. Kids will want to reconnect in only the way that kids can. The Danish article paints a pretty stark learning existence. I suspect that majority of time, at least in the beginning, will be developing a culture of being safe.


  3. I’d like to offer my own perspective after just finishing our first week back with students. I, too, had huge concerns about how to manage distancing with young children (I have a group of 6 K-2 students). Don’t they need proximity? Don’t I need proximity to teach, manage, console, comfort? Especially in such a challenging time? What I’m learning is that together we are finding our way. We are navigating this new reality together by thinking creatively – both outside (and *inside*) the box. We have been spending more time outdoors than ever and learning how to modify our favourite games so that they’re more spaced out. It isn’t anything like any of us have ever done before but we’re doing it. My own 6-year-old son is in my class now and it is heartbreaking to see him try to inch closer and closer to his best friend across the ‘divide’. But their joy in connecting again, even from a distance, is immeasurable.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. […] A look at re-opening – doug — off the record […]


  5. I think you’re right…we won’t go back to how things were before for a long time. I think we’ve probably “lost” some families who will remain at home and homeschool after this. I don’t have desks in my class- and there aren’t any spare desks in my school. And I’m not sure all my colleagues will return.


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