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Back to School?

13 May 2020

The Government hopes that some children in English schools will be able to return to their classrooms from June 1 – leading to many questions around the practicalities.  Jessica Hodson Walker has been speaking to our colleagues in other countries to find out how they are dealing with this conundrum.


Yesterday in France, about a million children went back to school. The Government intends for the process to be progressive, regulated and on a voluntary basis. To begin with, only schools located in the ‘green zone’, i.e. in Departments where the virus is not widespread, will reopen. The reopening of elementary, primary and secondary schools will take place step by step. High schools and Universities remain shut. Moreover, each class will accommodate no more than 15 pupils, with strict respect to the prescribed sanitary protocol, and masks have been strongly recommended for staff.  


There is not much clarity in Italy on the situation, the only clear point is that schools are not opening until next September.

The decisions change daily, particularly for example on final exams for high school diplomas. One suggestion that has been raised is the re-opening of vacation camps for small children in the June-August term when schools are closed. Some funding has been proposed by the Government to support families in sending their children to these. These camps will be allowed as long as activities are run in open air and they have access to thermo scanners and protective equipment. 

The future of schools is a great issue. The model for September looks to be a mixed one of alternating schemes of classroom activities and home schooling. The problem is how to keep social distance during all stages of everyday school life when it does return. While entry and exit can be easily managed via different timetables, the real problem is when all pupils are in. We imagine classes will be divided into two groups (for a maximum of 15 people for each Group). The challenge is how to manage this without extra resources or hours on the staff side given the current state of public funds for education.


Morocco has some of the toughest restrictions in place for managing the Covid19 crisis. The end of confinement has still not been decided on and it will not occur before 24th May.

Therefore, the schools will not reopen before September. It has been announced that exams will take place because the Government believes that 75% of the year’s curriculum were completed before the schools closed.

The good news is that because of these strict measures, we have only suffered 188 deaths due to the coronavirus out of a population of 34 million people.


Spain has initiated the de-escalating process, by region and by level. The plans for the de-escalation in education scheduled in several regions by the local Governments do not agree with those coming from the Ministry of Education.

The Government's plan is for face-to-face classes to begin in September. But in phase 2 - planned in most regions from May 25 - schools will be opened for children from zero to six years old whose parents work and have no one to leave them with. Also, on a voluntary basis, for students who extra help, for special education centres and for students between 13 – 16 years old. At least seven regions haven’t agreed with this approach.

The details will be outlined at the meeting to be held tomorrow between the Minister of Education and the regional advisors in education, but it is clear that there is no common position.


Schools in Jordan have been closed as per the National Defence Law enacted on the 18th of March 2020. This has caused public and private schools to shift to an e-learning system. The Jordanian government along with technological start-up companies have come up with ‘Darsak’ platform – which translates to ‘your lesson’ in English. Three websites are hosted on the platform, namely Jo Academy, Abwab and Idrak, with 3-4 lessons uploaded daily between 6am and 4pm, accessible at all times. As the lockdown is supposed to finish by the end of May, schools and universities are reported to stay online, taking precautionary measures against the virus. As yet, there is no news on when they’ll open again, and if any specific age groups are going to be attending first. 


At the moment we have no idea when schools in Wales might reopen – there were rumours of a reopening on June 1, after half term, but Welsh Ministers have now said that’s not true.