Phased Return to School for Beijing Students

22 May 2020

Tian An Men Mini BannerPupils in China are starting to return to school after being absent from their classrooms for more than three months. Cities across China are lifting lockdown at different speeds. The capital Beijing, is about to welcome pupils back to schools. How are they preparing for this? Ms Lyu, a primary school classroom teacher, has been following these developments.

With the pandemic outbreak under control in China, Beijing’s public health emergency response was downgraded by one level on the 30 April. Prior to that, S6 students of (高三) returned to the classroom on 27 April. Two weeks later S3 students (初二) returned to school on 11 May. Currently all students, teachers and staff in schools are requested to wear masks when indoors, with the exception of participation in PE classes.

According to the Beijing Municipal Education Commission (北京市教育委员会), S4 and S5 students (高一高二), S1 and S2 (初一初二) and P6 (六年级) were expected to go back to school on 1 June. Active preparations were undertaken for reopening schools. Firstly, there are conditions applied to returning students, including insuring they are in good health and have been living in Beijing for more than 14 days. Secondly, teaching plans should be re-designed to evaluate the progress made in home-based learning. Thirdly, PPEs should be guaranteed in schools, including use of clinical thermometers, disinfectants, and masks. Fourthly, campus public areas, such as teaching rooms, offices and toilets, should be disinfected throughout before pupils are readmitted. Fifthly, a temporary Medical Disposal Room should be set up near the school medical clinic. It is worth mentioning that all the students must have a school lunch, with the aim of establishing better crowd control. At the same time, the Education Commission will conduct a full inspection of school cafeterias as well as the companies which are eligible to deliver school meals. Last but not least, classes will be divided into two separate groups in order to practise proper social distancing.

Although everyone looks forward to the students’ return, this brings several challenges to the whole of society. How to balance the proactive nature of pupils and social distancing rules and how to establish a safe and interactive teaching environment are just some of them. I think schools should strengthen collaboration with parents and communities and face unprecedented challenges collectively.

Hopefully schools in Beijing will hear the sound of laughter again soon!

Lyu, a primary school classroom teacher in Beijing
22nd May 2020