'It Is a New World' as Children Return to Class

Denmark gently reopens schools for younger children
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2020 11:30 AM CDT
One Country Lets Kids Return to Class
Rebekka Hjorth holds an outdoor music lesson at the Korshoejskolen in Randers, Denmark, Wednesday, April 15, 2020.   (Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)

Denmark made headlines this week by reopening some of its schools—making it a laboratory for other countries that want to get things rolling again, the New York Times reports. So far, Denmark is allowing younger students back amid restrictions, like having desks six feet apart. "It is a new world," says the head teacher at a school in southern Denmark. "We used to make plans for if there was a terrorist attack here—but never this kind of attack." CNN reports that other restrictions include regular hand-washing, schoolyards separated into sections, and staggered drop-off times. So it's not quite the life students knew before March 11, when Denmark became one of the first European countries to shut down schools, restaurants, and stores.

"We usually jump and hug and fight and give each other high fives," says a 10-year-old while pointing to his friend. "But we can't do that any more." There's also been controversy as some parents protest the reopening, and the World Health Organization urges countries like Denmark to wait until the coronavirus is gone before easing restrictions. But Denmark's case rate has fallen lately (321 have died amid 6,870 positive diagnoses) and experts are telling Danish policymakers that parents need free time to return to the economy. The BBC reports that other European nations eased restrictions this week, including Spain, which let non-essential employees go back to work after a two-week hiatus. German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she'll discuss the issue with state premiers on Wednesday. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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