HOW TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL SAFELY

Learn outside. At least that’s the suggestion coming from a growing group of activists and educators referencing best practices from alternative Forest Schools, yes, schools that take place in the forest, to the way school is resuming in Italy, Denmark and how it has been taught in less developed countries around the globe, pandemic or not.

It might sound counter intuitive, doesn't going back to school imply being inside a tiny building with tiny desks and uncomfortable chairs and poorly ventilated classrooms? Not necessarily! 


If we consider the benefits of outdoor learning, even if it can’t be on the beach or in the woods and is held, say, in a tented parking lot, the current science states that outdoor transmission is 20x less than indoor which is a far less risky proposition for parents, teachers and students who are understandably terrified about potential rampant spread.


While this model isn’t tenable in intemperate climates or cramped cities there is collective desperation for new solutions to antiquated, broken education models. With some chutzpah and imagination the idea could be implemented, at least part time, given all the under-utilized real estate in cities (think office courtyards, playgrounds, even rooftops) and far more obvious spaces in the country. 


For regions that can do this fairly easily and consistently, I’m talking to you CALIFORNIA, why isn’t this seriously being considered? We all want our kids going to school with other humans, safely. We all are making tough choices whether we choose to send kids back to physical school, opt for 100% online learning, a hybrid model, a homeschool model, a pod model, or none of the above.


Who really knows the risks vs. benefits of any of these “choices?” Who knows if all-day, screen-only “learning” or isolated, homogenous home “pods” will give kids an advantage or set them back? We won’t know until we try. Teaching outdoors sounds like something more cities and suburbs should try. It sounds FUN for our kids too. Now, don’t they deserve more of that?

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