After months of lockdown, the world is beginning to get back to normal with businesses and schools reopening. China was one of the first countries to introduce restrictions and as a result, was also one of the first to begin to discover what the ‘new normal’ looks like.
Many employees have been working from home as part of the effort to keep the country running as smoothly as possible while helping to slow the spread of Covid-19 and as people head back to offices, warehouses and factories across the country, they are being greeted by strict new rules to ensure a safe working environment and, in some cases, flexible working options. For some, this means continuing to work from home for part of the week and in some provinces, companies are being encouraged to implement a 2.5-day working week.
Schools reopened in April with new protocols in place to keep students and staff safe. Class sizes have been reduced, lesson times are shorter and many schools are still using the technology that allowed them to continue delivering an education programme throughout lockdown. Teachers are using video calls to take lessons from a separate classroom to keep them distanced from the children, thus reducing the risk of infection and cross-contamination between ‘bubbles’. The enforced introduction of more technology into the learning environment is being seen as positive and those within the education sector are now looking at new and innovative ways to use technology to enhance what schools are able to offer future generations of students.
China opted for a staggered reopening to reopening schools to ensure that new protocols and policies were successful before increasing more students into schools and increasing the amount of traffic on the roads during the school run in the morning and afternoon. Middle schools and high schools opened first on the 7th and 8th April with primary schools following shortly after. By 20th April all school across the country were open again. Students have been advised to avoid public transport on their journey to and from school and are being encouraged to walk to school wherever possible. This not only reduces the risk of a second wave of infections but also promotes a healthy lifestyle and ensures students get plenty of fresh air – essential for protection from Coronavirus along with other illnesses and for increasing concentration levels which is vital given the unprecedented circumstances which have been thrust upon schools by the pandemic and the subsequent effect on the past academic year.
Although schools and parents have done their best to provide an education for children throughout lockdown, there is no doubt that children’s education has suffered and anything which promotes a better learning environment is encouraged by the Chinese government and the education sector as a whole. Further schemes to help students to catch up with missed learning opportunities are also being looked at and announcements are expected throughout the academic year.
Covid-19 has defined 2020 across the globe with over 1 billion school students having their education disrupted and businesses struggling to stay afloat. But as we enter the final few months of this turbulent year there are positive signs that the war on Coronavirus is being won and that, though the implications of the pandemic will rumble on for months if not years, life is returning to normal.