How is the school in Denmark

Children back in class : Does the Denmark model make school?

Whether, when and how the schools should reopen is hotly disputed in Germany. Many fear that the number of infections will rise again sharply when the children are again taught in class groups, play together during breaks and populate public transport.

The neighboring country of Denmark is one step further. For hundreds of thousands of small children in Denmark, a bit of normality returned on Wednesday: As the first country in Europe to opt for a lockdown during the coronavirus crisis, the government reopened crèches, kindergartens and schools up to the fifth grade - under strict conditions. There are still digital lessons for the older students. School should start again for them on May 10th.

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With this step, Frederiksen's government wants to relieve above all the parents who have had to look after their children at home in the past four weeks or, if necessary, ensure care - and support the economy. There is a lot to do in Denmark, Frederiksen had said.

The move by the government in Copenhagen initially applies to almost 400,000 students from grades zero - the Danish preschool class - to five and the around 250,000 children in day care facilities, as reported by the dpa news agency.

School life for the little ones in Denmark has little to do with everyday life, however, because strict guidelines apply: there should be six square meters of space per child in daycare centers and four square meters in schools, and they should be allowed to sit outside at tables two meters apart they can only be together in groups of five.

The children are not allowed to share food or sweets and have to wash their hands at least every two hours. Toys, toilets, tables, handles and switches need to be cleaned and disinfected twice a day. Anyone who feels sick or has a coronavirus case in the family should stay at home.

In contrast to the government in Sweden, where there are comparatively few restrictions, the government in Copenhagen reacted early to the coronavirus crisis. The Social Democratic Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen had already closed the borders of the country with its 5.8 million inhabitants on March 14th.

Many measures in Denmark extended until May 10th

Bars, cafes and restaurants as well as theaters, cinemas and other cultural and sports facilities are also close. Meetings with more than ten people are prohibited, major events are prohibited until the end of August. And all of these measures have only just been extended to May 10th.

Apparently the restrictions in Denmark are having an effect. According to the authorities, each person infected with the virus currently only infects an average of 0.6 other people - before the measures against the spread of the coronavirus began, this value was 2.4. A value below 1.0 is also aimed for in Germany. Scientists and politicians hope that sooner or later the pandemic will wane.

[More on the subject: What changes, what remains as it is? The federal and state governments have decided]

"I am deeply impressed how quickly a school like this one managed to switch from closed to open again," said Frederiksen on TV2, according to the dpa, when she got a picture on Wednesday morning in Lykkebo Skole in western Copenhagen of the school openings made. “The children are very happy to see their comrades again.” Later she wrote on Facebook that it was fantastic to see how well the teachers and students had adapted to the new situation.

Not all schools in Denmark can meet requirements

The strict requirements were also one of the reasons why classes did not start again everywhere on Wednesday. The distance rule in particular posed organizational problems for smaller schools.

Next week everyone should be involved in the restart. In some schools, classes will then take place in shifts: mornings and afternoons. As ARD reports online, according to a survey by the Danish Association of Local Authorities, daycare centers and kindergartens could initially only be opened in 52 of the 83 municipalities surveyed, while there were 46 schools.

The ARD quoted the Swedish radio station Elisabeth Skylare from Copenhagen, whose daughter is in third grade. “We are very happy because our daughter longs for her friends and the familiar routine. I have absolutely no doubt that it will work. The children finally had four or five weeks to learn to wash their hands and keep their distance. "

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Norway is also planning easing for students and parents. In the country with its 5.4 million inhabitants, the kindergartens are to be opened again on April 20, followed by the schools for grades one to four a week later. In Sweden, neither daycare centers nor primary schools have been closed at all. Digital lessons are only available for high school students and at universities.

Significantly higher number of coronavirus cases in Sweden

Denmark and Norway were able to push the curve of new infections. In Denmark, according to the American Johns Hopkins University, as of Thursday noon there were 6876 confirmed infections and 309 deaths, in Norway there are 6798 patients who tested positive and 150 deaths.

In Sweden, with around 10.2 million inhabitants, the numbers are significantly higher. There are 11,927 confirmed infections and 1,202 deaths related to Covid-19, most of them in Stockholm. The government in Stockholm and the experts advising it are nevertheless optimistic about developments.

Background to the coronavirus:

According to ARD, there are also concerns in Denmark. Preschools, which otherwise have space for 45 children, are only allowed to accept 15 according to the new rules. Parents in Copenhagen, among others, are called upon to first ask the administration whether there is room for their children at all. Attempts are being made to create additional space for day care, among other things, in museums and in the open air on playgrounds.

But many parents fear, according to the report, that their employers would not understand if they still keep the children at home despite reopening daycare centers and schools and they therefore cannot come to work. And a parent petition against it collected 18,000 signatures by Tuesday, as Deutsche Welle reported online. Many parents fear that the children could carry the virus into their families.

“In order to open Denmark carefully and in a controlled manner, we have to dare to walk a tightrope. It is important to plan and act pragmatically, realistically and responsibly, "said Prime Minister Frederiksen when presenting her plans for easing measures against the spread of the coronavirus. Not only the Danes will be eagerly awaiting the restart in schools.

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