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Danish and international schools gradually reopening this week

During Easter, schools and childcare facilities have been working hard to prepare for the reopening as of 15 April, some will open a few days later.

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By Bente D. Knudsen

Not all schools have enough facilities to enable appropriate handwashing for so many at the same time, therefore several Danish municipalities have rented extra equipment from companies who normally rent out to festivals and markets. With the ban on large events and markets until the end of August, they have plenty of equipment to rent out.

Hand hygiene and extensive hand washing is going to be the number one parameter for a successful reopening without an increase in spread.

In the documents sent out to Danish schools, the Danish Health Board underlines the importance of proper hand hygiene in order to reduce spread – also from those not presenting any symptoms. Readers can find the link to the Danish folder here.

The folder explains how the coronavirus spreads from asymptomatic people, i.e. from anyone not presenting the typical symptoms such as fever or coughing.

At present, the Danish Health Board says that it is expected that those infected can spread the virus up to 48 hours before presenting any symptoms, however, it is believed that most of the spread is from people with symptoms, as the virus spreads though droplets from an infected person who coughs or sneezes.

So, for those not presenting symptoms, these droplets are not transmitted through coughing but from infectious matter from the mouth or nose, which by their hands is transmitted to contact points touched by others.

If someone touches an infected contact point and then puts their hands to their mouth, nose or eyes, the virus can spread.

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Frequent handwashing and washing of contact points are therefore key elements in reducing spread.

Staff at schools and childcare facilities will therefore be asked to help children with maintaining high hand hygiene, and posters will be hung up to remind children of when they must wash their hands:

When you wash your hands, do so for a long time with water and soap

Wash your hands when:
You arrive at school in the morning
At every recess
Before you leave the school and again when you get home
After going to the bathroom
Before and after eating
If you have blown your nose

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Danish schools, and according to our information the international schools as well, have taken all classrooms into use in order to split the children into smaller groups and to enable placing desks with two meters distance between them.

The Danish Health Board has made it mandatory to place children, sitting together in a classroom for a longer period, at individual desks placed two meters apart, which in many schools has been a challenge as pupils normally sit two or four together.

Danish media reports that many schools have already announced that they do not have enough space to take the two meters into account should the whole school reopen after 10 May with the same distancing measures required. At present only grades 0 to 5 will be back at school this week.

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The Copenhagen International School is reopening on the 15 April and parents have been informed that the school is following the Danish authorities’ guidelines.

The school will be cleaned throughout the day, children will be sitting two metres apart and they will be on different rotas so not all classes are outside at the same time, there will be a maximum of 10 pupils classroom and all pupils will have designated sinks/toilets to use. The school has announced staggered start and finish times as well as three different drop off and pick up sites depending on grade level. The school’s canteen will not reopen until an offer of boxed lunches is available.

Ryggard’s International school has announced the same measures as the Copenhagen International school (using all classrooms and placing pupils two meters apart) but as they have more outdoor facilities, they are able to have some classes held outdoors on sunny days as well – also here the children will be dropped outside the school and picked up outside the school as parents are not allowed inside the school.

Other international schools have informed that they will be offering what they call “an emergency provision of teaching” because the many measures and guidelines do not make it possible to run the school as a “normal school day”, the full reopening will not take place until the 20 April, days will be shorter than usual without the after-hours school coverage.

The Danish authorities have also informed that sick children even with mild symptoms such as even just a cold are NOT to go to school or to their day-care centre.

In Denmark schooling is mandatory until 9th grade, parents who do not want to send their children to school therefore need to get permission to do so.