Prepared for the DELVE Initiative by Inès HassanDevi Sridhar

Cite as: Inès HassanDevi Sridhar (2020), International comparisons of school policies. DELVE Addendum SCH-TD1. Published 24 July 2020. Available from http://rs-delve.github.io/addenda/2020/07/24/international-comparisons-of-school-policies.html.



Table 1. Macro school policies used in select countries

Country Who is responsible for the opening strategy? Which schools are open? When did schools open? Are schools operating at full capacity? Are there plans for future national/ regional school closures?
Germany The federal government provides national recommendations, but the responsibility lies with the 16 states. All schools and early care centres. All schools were open by 6th May 2020 after 7 weeks of closures. No. Schools will be back to normal from August 2020. No, local level closures will be implemented if there is a surge in cases.
Italy National guidance to be released on 25th June. However, schools have the autonomy to decide how to manage NPIs. All schools and early care centres. They are not open. They have been closed since 4th March 2020. No. Schools will open in September 2020 Not known.
France Central government provided guidelines with flexibility left to local authorities. All schools and early care centres. Phased opening from May 8th after nation-wide closures from 16th March. Yes, since 22nd June except for lycées. Attendance is now compulsory No
Spain Central government provided guidelines with flexibility left to the regional governments. Primary schools and early care centres Schools closed in mid-March. Phased openings have occurred since May 25th enabling some children to attend. No. Schools will be operating at close to normal capacity by September 202. Although distancing measures will likely still be in place. No known
Denmark Guidance is provided by the cabinet of Denmark (nationally), but municipalities determine how schools open. All schools and early care centres. All schools were open by 15th April 2020 after 1 month of closures (13th March).. No. Schools will be operating at close to normal capacity - with no mandatory distancing - from 1 August 2020. No, local level closures will be implemented if there is a surge in cases.
Israel  Decision making on reopening has been mostly made at a national level All schools and early care centres. 3rd May after 7 weeks of closures for most pupils. No. No. Local areas are quarantined if the number of cases surges.
New Zealand  Decision making on reopening has been mostly made at a national level  All schools and early care centres  On 29th April, after 1 month of closures from ~23rd March.. Yes, schools opened without mandatory distancing measures from 9th June. No
Australia Guidance is provided by the federal government and the national cabinet, but states and territories ultimately decide how to manage schools. All schools and early care centres. Schools were never officially shut across the country. Although the majority of states encouraged physical distancing or closed schools from 22nd March. On April 12, the federal government encouraged states to reopen where they had shut schools. Yes, on 15th June or 3rd week of July depending on the state or territory. No

Table 2. Micro policies used in schools to reduce COVID-19 transmission

School Intervention Germany France Spain Denmark Israel New Zealand Australia
Phased opening: Groups who were prioritised for the initial phase of opening An inconsistent approach was used by states. Children of essential workers, those in kindergarten and primary schools, followed closely by older children Children under the age of six and those with special needs Children of key workers, those who need supervision: early years to 11 years and children with disabilities. Children in grades 1-3 and 11-12 could return to school for phased in-person teaching from the 3rd May or to attend revision classes before key exams. Primary to secondary school from years 1-10 (aged 5-15 years) Those who could not work for home were encouraged to attend. However, an inconsistent approach was used by states.
Mix of in-person and virtual learning Blended online and in-person learning is in place.
Full capacity in-person instruction to be implemented by August 2020
Blended online and in-person learning has been used since May.
Full capacity in-person instruction is in place for most children since 22nd June
Mostly online learning, with the exception of under six years. Blended learning to take place from September Blended online and in-person learning is in place.
Full capacity in-person instruction to be implemented by 1st August 2020
Blended learning Previously, blended learning was used. Previously, blended learning was used.
Distancing length 1.5m 1m
Since 22nd June for all children other than those in lycées, this only applies for pupils in different classes or groups. No distancing is required in classrooms or outdoors
1.5m for those in 5th grade or above only. 6 feet when schools first opened. This was reduced to 1 meter after 6 weeks, excluding those in kindergarten.
It will not be mandatory from 1st August 2020
2m Previously 2m. Distancing is no longer required. Previously, a 1.5m distance was maintained outside of classrooms for children and at all times for teachers. This is no longer mandated
Maximum number of pupils per class 10 Previously 10 or 15.
There is now no limit
20 12 until 1st August 2020 This is calculated based on distancing rules Previously 10, and later 20. Now there are no restrictions N/A
Use of restricted micro-groups Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes. No longer in use Yes
Staggered start and break times Yes No N/A Yes Yes Yes. No longer in use Yes. No longer in use
One-way systems Yes N/A N/A Yes Yes Yes. No longer in use Yes. No longer in use
Off-site group learning No N/A Yes, there are plans to make use of gyms, libraries and halls outside of the school setting to facilitate distancing Yes, where possible lessons are conducted outdoors or in non-used spaces, e.g. stadiums N/A N/A Yes. No longer in use
Visitors/parents allowed in schools No No until 22nd June. Visitors must wear a mask on school property. N/A No No Previously limited. There are no longer any restrictions Previously, no.

Hygiene Measures

Enhanced facilities and products for handwashing

Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Use of Personal Protective Equipment Masks must be worn in communal areas.
In classrooms, use is recommended
Previously compulsory for all students and pupils. Now, teachers and pupils aged 11 years and above must wear masks when 1 m distancing cannot be maintained. Pupils in middle and high schools must wear face coverings while travelling. No, except for students in 5th grade of primary school and above and staff where distancing of 1.5m cannot be implemented. It will also be mandatory for those aged 6 and above while on transport. No Masks are worn in open areas during breaks. Students in fourth grade and above always have to wear a mask except when exercising. No. No
Case management School attendance and symptoms are documented for tracing
Symptomatic pupils or staff are tested
Symptomatic pupils or staff stay at home
Since 28th April 2020, anyone in contact with infected individuals is able to get tested. Staff or students with symptoms must isolate for 14 days. Students with symptoms are isolated, provided a mask and sent home for isolation Since May 18th, all adults are able to be tested. Only children who are symptomatic are tested. Symptomatic persons are put into isolation. Parents have to sign a health form confirming their child and/or family members do not have COVID-19 before being permitted into the school
If any child displays symptoms they must go into isolation immediately.
One positive case results in the whole school getting tested
Symptomatic children are isolated and a public Healthline is used to report cases. Children are not always tested. Contact tracing must be in place to record cases. Symptomatic children are isolated and a public Healthline is used to report cases. Contact tracing must be in place to record cases.
Policies for vulnerable staff or students Staff and students who are "vulnerable" to work from home. Although staff are increasingly being brought back into schools. N/A N/A Teachers at risk or who have family members in the vulnerable category are teaching online classes from home N/A High-risk groups have only been required to take "extra precaution when leaving the home". Previously, shielding of at-risk and vulnerable groups, e.g. people over 65 years and those with chronic medical conditions and Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people over 50 with chronic medical conditions.
Other N/A N/A Partitions may be used to facilitate distancing in children in 5th grade and above. N/A No physical contact at all
In Israel, children cannot check books out of libraries, share food, borrow pencils/pens from other pupils
N/A Previously, classroom decluttering a restriction on mobile phone use was encouraged.

Appendix

School Policy Country profiles

GERMANY

Total population
  • 82.79 million

Date of first reported case of COVID-19
  • January 2020

Epidemiological situation on 22nd June 2020
  • Confirmed cases: 192,119

  • Active cases: 7,850

  • Deaths: 8,969

  • Recovered: 175,300

School closures
  • Although some states closed schools from February, on a national level schools were closed on 16th March 2020. There were 1,214 active COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths in the country when this decision was made. The children of essential workers were able to attend throughout the closures.

School opening macro policies
  • The federal government announced on 20th April that states should reopen schools using a staggered approach by May 6th 2020 – 7 weeks after closing – allowing for physical distancing measures to be implemented. This announcement was made when there were 1,323 active cases of COVID-19 in the country.

  • However, there was no federal or regional approach to school openings. A decentralised and inconsistent approach was implemented across the country. For example, from 24th April, some state schools reopened to students in the final two years of school e.g. in North Rhine-Westphalia, a state that had one of the highest rates of Covid-19 cases in the country, while others only used online learning tools.

  • Although the majority of schools are now open, classes are not yet operating at full capacity in most states. There are some exceptions, e.g. in the state of Hessen, all primary schools are operating at full capacity with no distancing measures in place.

  • Attendance is not currently mandatory.

  • Education ministers published a strategy paper on the 28th of March recommending that schools open for all students after the summer holidays, i.e. in August with blended learning measures in place. Initial plans to continue implementing physical distancing measures after the summer break has since been abandoned by most states to allow schools to operate at full capacity, following advice from the Conference of Education Ministers (KMK) in June. This was announced when there were approximately 7,300 active cases, 534 new cases and 14 daily deaths across the country.

School opening micro policies
  • Although the majority of schools are now open, classes are typically divided into smaller groups to allow for distancing measures to continue. The majority of students are still learning through online-distancing tools. However, schools in some states, e.g.in Hessen have opened all primary schools at full capacity with no distancing measures.

  • The RKI – the official public health body- and later the government provided non-statutory guidance on the use of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) for schools to prevent the further spread of Covid-19 as detailed in Table 2.

Facilitators
  • Large-scale community testing has made it easy for Germany to track the source of outbreaks. This has enabled local school closures where necessary.

Challenges
  • A decentralised approach to school openings has made it difficult to keep track of useful interventions

  • There have been a number of changes to national guidance and state approach which has been confusing for schools and families.

  • Once schools open at full capacity in August, a typically large number of children in classrooms – up to 32 – will increase the likelihood of transmission

Outcomes to date
  • In May, the reproduction rate (Ro) rose above 1 once schools and other sectors reopened. This was not attributed to school settings and

  • Localised closures are being implemented at varying levels in accordance with the number infections, e.g. in mid-to-late June:

    • City-wide school closures: Schools and daycare centres in the German district of Gütersloh closed after an outbreak of 400-657 cases at a local meat factory

    • Neighbourhood closures: Several schools in Madeburg, Saxony-Anhalt were closed after an accumulation of ~60 new cases in a few days.

    • Individual school closures: In Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia, a primary school was forced to close after new infections were detected

Sources:

  1. The World Bank (2020) Data: Germany. Available at: https://data.worldbank.org/country/germany [Accessed June 22, 2020].

  2. Worldometers.info (2020) Coronavirus Update (Live): 9,228,977 Cases and 475,145 Deaths from COVID-19 Virus Pandemic - Worldometer [online] [Accessed 23rd June 2020].

  3. Böhmer M, Buchholz U, Corman V et al. (2020) Outbreak of COVID-19 in Germany Resulting from a Single Travel-Associated Primary Case. SSRN Electronic Journal. 2020. <doi:10.2139/ssrn.3551335>

  4. Robert Koch-Institut (2020) COVID-19-Dashboard. Experience.arcgis.com. Available at: https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/478220a4c454480e823b17327b2bf1d4 [Accessed April 30, 2020].

  5. Saechsische.de (2020) Corona: Beherbergungsverbot für Menschen aus Gütersloh [online] [Accessed 23rd June 2020].

  6. Robert Kock Institut (2020) Wiedereröffnung Von Bildungseinrichtungen – Überlegungen, Entscheidungsgrundlagen Und Voraussetzungen. Epidemiologisches Bulletin. Available at: https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/Infekt/EpidBull/Archiv/2020/Ausgaben/19_20_02.pdf?__blob=publicationFile [Accessed April 30, 2020].

  7. BBC News (2020) How England is following Denmark’s school safety model. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-52550470 [Accessed May 12, 2020]

  8. BBC News (2020) Germany not alarmed by infection rate rise. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-52632369 [Accessed May 12, 2020].

  9. Thelocal.de (2020) Schools in German district to close after 400 meat factory workers test positive for coronavirus [online] [Accessed 23rd June 2020].

  10. Deutschland.de (2020) Coronavirus: Latest updates [online] [Accessed 23rd June 2020].

Denmark

Total population
  • 5.79 million

Date of first reported case of COVID-19
  • 22 February 2020

Epidemiological situation on 22nd June 2020
  • Confirmed: 12,561

  • Active cases: 578

  • Deaths: 603

  • Recovered: 11,393

School closures
  • Schools closed on 23rd March 2020. This decision was made when there were 1,144 active cases and 6 daily deaths in the country.

School opening macro policies
  • The government recommended that schools partially open from 15th April 2020, after one month of closures, when municipalities considered it safe.

  • Day-care facilities, pupils from pre-school (<3 years old) to fifth grade (11 years old) and those with special needs from all grades were also able to return to school from this date. Before and after-school care (for pupils up to the fifth grade) opened at the same time.

  • The approach was agreed with teachers’ unions, local authorities and municipalities. However, most municipalities opened on the following week when health they were confident that associated health requirements could be met.

  • On 19th June 2020, the National Board of Health and the Ministry of Children and Education updated guidelines that will relax distancing rules and allow schools to operate at normal capacity from 1st August 2020. This was announced when there were 509 active cases, 47 new cases and 0 daily deaths.

School opening micro policies
  • Before schools opened, the Ministry of Children and Education and the Ministry of Health issued statutory guidelines for the safe reopening process taking into account the need to maintain good health at day-care facilities and schools. This included the use of outdoor spaces, e.g. a football stadium to ensure classes could be taught without compromising on distancing rules. See Table 2 for an overview of these guidelines.

  • As explained above, these rules will be relaxed from 1st August 2020. This includes no mandatory distancing measures.

Facilitators
  • Early lockdown and school closures before high transmission rates

  • Relatively small and low-density population

  • Clear and transparent government advice is readily available for all schools and citizens to access

  • From May 18th, all adults in Denmark were able to get tested for Covid-19, enabling the management of local outbreaks.

Challenges
  • All guidelines are non-statutory which may result in varying approaches across the schools in the country.

  • There was hesitation from parents in the first few weeks. However, the public “mood” shifted and parents are more open to sending their children to schools

Outcome to date
  • Two weeks after schools – and other sectors - opened, the Danish authorities previously reported an increase in the reproduction (R) rate of Covid-19, from 0.6 to 0.9 per cent. However, there were no signs that the partial reopening of schools had caused a bigger spread of infection.” Importantly, R had fallen to 0.7 in the first week of May according to the Statens Serum Institut (SSI)

  • On June 24th, nine weeks after schools opened the active number of cases has continued to fall, indicating that schools opening may not be contributing to major transmissions in cases

  • In June, an “outbreak” resulted in infections in 34 persons in the town of Hjørring. Pupils and teachers from a few classes in two schools were sent into isolation. There was no widespread school closures. Other than that, schools have not been associated with an increased transmission of the virus.

Sources:

  1. The World Bank (2020) Data: Denmark. Available at: https://data.worldbank.org/country/denmark [Accessed April 30, 2020].

  2. Worldometers.info (2020) Coronavirus Update (Live): 9,228,977 Cases and 475,145 Deaths from COVID-19 Virus Pandemic - Worldometer [online] [Accessed 23rd June 2020].

  3. Politi.dk (2020) Coronavirus/COVID-19 in Denmark..Available at: https://politi.dk/en/coronavirus-in-denmark [Accessed May 1, 2020]

  4. dailyfinland.fi (2020) Danish parents question early reopening of schools [online] [Accessed June 24 2020].

  5. BBC News (2020) How England is following Denmark’s school safety model. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-52550470 [Accessed May 12, 2020].

  6. Cavanagh, E. (2020) How 6 countries are opening up schools again, with temperature checks, outdoor classes, and spaced out desks. insider.com. Available at: https://www.insider.com/how-china-denmark-japan-reopening-schools-2020-4#children-are-required-to-wash-their-hands-every-hour-and-wear-masks-4 [Accessed May 12, 2020].

  7. Sum.dk (2020) Sundheds- og Ældreministeriet Alle borgere får mulighed for at blive testet for COVID-19 - sum.dk [online] [Accessed June 24 2020].

  8. New Zealand Government (2020) COVID-19 Alert System. Unite against COVID-19. Available at: https://COVID19.govt.nz/alert-system/COVID-19-alert-system/#alert-level-3%C2%A0%E2%80%94-restrict [Accessed May 1, 2020]

  9. Zweig, D. (2020) The Case for Reopening Schools. Wired. Available at: https://www.wired.com/story/the-case-for-reopening-schools/ [Accessed May 12, 2020].

  10. Medicalxpress.com (2020) Second coronavirus wave unlikely in Denmark: top expert. Available at: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-05-coronavirus-denmark-expert.html [Accessed May 12, 2020]

  11. Thelocal.dk (2020) Denmark sees first coronavirus outbreak since lockdown lifted [online] [Accessed June 24 2020].

ITALY

Total population
  • 60.42 million

Date of first reported case of COVID-19
  • 31st January 2020

Epidemiological situation on 22nd June 2020
  • Confirmed cases: 238,833

  • Active cases: 19,573

  • Deaths: 34,675

  • Recovered: 184,585

School closures
  • Although some municipalities closed schools from January, on 4th March schools were closed nationwide. There were 2,705 active COVID-19 cases and 28 daily deaths in the country when this decision was made.

School opening macro policies
  • On 20th April, the federal proposed to Regions that schools should open after the summer break on 14th September 2020. Leaving pupils without in-person instruction for 6 months.

School opening micro policies
  • Government guidance on the school's approach to reopening will be released on 25th June. In an earlier draft released at the end of May, it outlined physical distancing and enhanced hygiene measures would be used. It was proposed that masks would be worn in schools and visitor and parents would not be allowed on site. Practice runs have been held in some regions to ensure physical distancing measures, in particular, can be upheld.

Facilitators
  • Although, the long school closure period is detrimental to children, it does allow schools sufficient time to prepare for new distancing, hygiene and reporting measures. For example, Italy only launched its contact tracing app in June, leaving sufficient time to iron out any teething issues before schools open in the autumn.

Challenges
  • Schools have the autonomy to decide how they will manage distancing and other NPI measures once they open, which may lead to inconsistent approaches and suboptimal outcomes in more deprived neighbourhoods.

Outcomes to date
  • N/A

Sources:

  1. The World Bank (2020) Data: Italy. Available at: https://data.worldbank.org/country/italy [Accessed June 22, 2020].

  2. Worldometers.info (2020) Coronavirus Update (Live): 9,228,977 Cases and 475,145 Deaths from COVID-19 Virus Pandemic - Worldometer [online] [Accessed 23rd June 2020].

  3. Giuffrida, A., Beaumont, P. and Tondo, L. (2020) Italy orders closure of all schools and universities due to coronavirus. The Guardian [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/04/italy-orders-closure-of-schools-and-universities-due-to-coronavirus [Accessed June 24 2020].

  4. Tuttoscuola.com (2020) Documento Tecnico Sull’ipotesi Di Rimodulazione Delle Misure Contenitive Nel Settore Scolastico [online] [Accessed June 24 2020].

  5. Tuttoscuola (2020) Ritorno a scuola: il piano di rientro farà perno sulle istituzioni scolastiche. Come si prevedeva. La bozza - Tuttoscuola [online] [Accessed June 24 2020].

  6. Tuttoscuola (2020) Distanziamento di almeno un metro, riorganizzazione degli spazi e mascherina: ecco come si tornerà a scuola a settembre. Il documento del Cts - Tuttoscuola [online] [Accessed June 24 2020].

  7. Ilsole24ore.com (2020) A scuola classi divise, doppi turni, sabato in aula e (alle superiori) lezioni online: le istruzioni per settembre [online] [Accessed June 24 2020].

  8. MIUR (2020) Scuola, Ministero proporrà a Regioni avvio nuovo anno il 14 settembre - Scuola, Ministero proporrà a Regioni avvio nuovo anno il 14 settembre [online] [Accessed June 24 2020].


FRANCE

Total population
  • 66.98 million

Date of first reported case of COVID-19
  • 24th January 2020

Epidemiological situation on 22nd June 2020
  • Confirmed cases: 161,348

  • Active cases: 56,490

  • Deaths: 29,731

  • Recovered: 75,127

School closures
  • Schools closed across the country on March 16th when there were 6,473 active cases of COVID-19 and 148 daily deaths.

School opening macro policies
  • Decisions were made on a national level, although responsibility is with local authorities and decentralised state services.

  • 80-85% schools (1.4 million pupils) across the country opened from May 11th to May 18th combining in-person and online learning.

  • Children in kindergarten and primary schools were first to return; administrators were told to prioritise instruction for children ages 5, 6 and 10. Middle schools gradually opened in administrative divisions that were labelled as “green zones” and that had relatively low infection rates. High schools and vocational colleges opened a week later, starting with years 5 and 6. Students with disabilities, those with poor grades, and those whose parents are key workers were also prioritised.

  • Places were not guaranteed, while smaller classes sizes were being accommodated.

  • On 15th June, the government announced that all schools had to open at full capacity from 22nd June when physical distancing measures could be relaxed. However, this excludes those in lycées (aged 15-18). Attendance is now compulsory.

  • The school calendar for the remainder of the year has not been updated, and the summer break will begin on 4th July.

School opening micro policies
  • The Ministry of Education has provided detailed public health protocols. Strict enhanced hygiene and distancing protocols were in place during the initial phases of opening. This included compulsory mask wearing for students and staff. From the 22nd June, these rules have since been relaxed. See Table 2 for more details.

Facilitators
  • Administrative divisions across the country have been split into red, orange and green zones based on the number of new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed, the capacity of intensive care units and the stage of testing and contact tracing programmes. This allows local authorities, schools and parents to easily understand the risk in their area and ensures that schools are not shut down unnecessarily. As o 23rd June 2020, most of France is considered to be green zones, except for the departments of Mayotte and French Guiana.

Older children are only able to go back if they are based in a green zone.

Challenges
  • Containment challenges early on resulted in an increased number of cases, and hospital capacity/PPE challenges delaying lockdown easing.

  • The division of the country into zones may cause greater inequalities in health as the area less able to cope with increased infection rates will likely be in less well-resourced areas.

Outcomes to date
  • After the initial phased opening of schools, when 1.4 million children had returned to school (30% attendance rate), a flare-up of 70 cases of COVID-19 was reported among students. Individual schools were subsequently shut down to allow for isolation. Given that the incubation period for the virus is several days, it was generally believed that the children were infected outside of a school setting.

Sources:

  1. The World Bank (2020) Data: France. Available at: https://data.worldbank.org/country/france [Accessed June 22, 2020].

  2. Spiteri G. (2020) First cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the WHO European Region, 24 January to 21 February 2020. Euro Surveillance. 2020;25(9). Available at : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7068164/ [Accessed May 21, 2020].

  3. Worldometers.info (2020) France Coronavirus: Worldometer. Available at: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/france/ [Accessed April 30, 2020]

  4. Statista (2020) COVID-19 testing rate by country. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1104645/COVID19-testing-rate-select-countries-worldwide/ [Accessed May 21, 2020].

  5. AP News (2020) French parents anguish over sending children back to school. Available at: https://apnews.com/8537d8a522191b67bfbc9a3bcad5b031 [Accessed May 21, 2020].

  6. BBC News (2020) Paris restrictions to stay as France reopens. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-52579482 [Accessed May 21, 2020].

  7. Gouvernement.fr. (2020) Coronavirus COVID 19 – english. Available at : https://www.gouvernement.fr/en/coronavirus-COVID-19 [Accessed May 21, 2020].

  8. Ministère de l’Education Nationale et de la Jeunesse (2020) Coronavirus - COVID-19 : informations et recommandations pour les établissements scolaires, les personnels et les familles. https://www.education.gouv.fr/coronavirus-COVID-19-informations-et-recommandations-pour-les-etablissements-scolaires-les-274253#edugouv-summary-item-21 [Accessed May 21, 2020].

  9. Ministère de l’Education Nationale et de la Jeunesse. (2020) Réouverture des écoles et des établissements scolaires. https://www.education.gouv.fr/bo/20/Hebdo19/MENE2011220C.htm [Accessed May 21, 2020].

  10. Thelocal.fr (2020) Easing lockdown in France: What’s the difference if you live in a red and green département? [online] [Accessed June 25 2020].

  11. Thelocal.fr (2020) France lays out ‘test and trace’ process for suspected coronavirus cases [online] [Accessed June 25 2020].

  12. Ministère de l’Education Nationale et de la Jeunesse (2020) Coronavirus - COVID-19 : informations et recommandations pour les établissements scolaires, les personnels et les familles [online] [Accessed June25 2020].

  13. SortirParis.com (2020) Deconfinement map in France: indicators’ evolution as of June 23, 2020 [online] Available at: https://www.sortiraparis.com/news/coronavirus/articles/217313-deconfinement-map-in-france-indicators-evolution-as-of-june-23-2020/lang/en [Accessed June 25 2020].

SPAIN

Total population
  • 46.94 million

Date of first reported case of COVID-19
  • 31 January 2020

Epidemiological situation on 22nd June 2020
  • Confirmed cases: 294,166

  • Active cases: 68,881

  • Deaths: 28,327

  • Recovered: N/A

School closures
  • Schools closed across the country on 10th March alongside other sectors. There were 1,622 total COVID-19 cases, 10 new daily cases and 35 daily deaths in the country at this time.

School opening macro policies
  • Phased school openings have been in place since May 25th enabling a limited group of children to attend school in person and the remainder taught through distance learning (online/TV). When schools first open there were 482 daily new cases and 42 daily deaths.

  • At the Education Sector Conference of June 11, a draft guideline on schools reopening was presented for the 2020-21 academic year which begins in September. The guidelines - which incorporated the input of the autonomous regional administrative divisions - prioritises face-to-face teaching at full capacity.

School opening micro policies
  • Although, the draft guidelines from the Education Sector Conference outlines that all pupils are to return to school from September, this will still be a combination of blended learning - online and in-person -and some distancing measures will be in place. See Table 2.

Facilitators
  • Much like Italy, although, the long school closure period is detrimental to children, it does allow schools sufficient time to prepare for new distancing, hygiene and reporting measures.

Challenges
  • Not all schools have been able to fulfil the minimum compulsory teaching days since March. Although, an effort is being made to provide additional support now, not all schools and households have the right technology to enable online distance learning.

Outcomes to date
  • N/A

Sources:

  1. The World Bank (2020) Data: Italy. Available at: https://data.worldbank.org/country/spain [Accessed June 23, 2020].

  2. Worldometers.info (2020) Coronavirus Update (Live): 9,228,977 Cases and 475,145 Deaths from COVID-19 Virus Pandemic - Worldometer [online] [Accessed 23rd June 2020].

  3. Olive Press News Spain (2020) Spain’s ‘patient zero’ ruled out as first COVID-19 cases investigated in Madrid - Olive Press News Spain [online] [Accessed June 25 2020].

  4. Majorca Daily Bulletin (2020) Parliament, schools shut down in Spain as coronavirus spreads [online] [Accessed June 25 2020].

  5. Fresneda, D. (2020) Coronavirus: Sánchez anuncia que la desescalada comenzará el 4 de mayo, tendrá cuatro fases y durará entre seis y ocho semanas [online] Available at: https://www.rtve.es/noticias/20200428/sanchez-anuncia-plan-desescalada-tendra-cuatro-fases-durara-entre-seis-ocho-semanas/2012959.shtml [Accessed June 25 2020].

  6. Fresneda, D. (2020) Así será el colegio que plantea Celaá en septiembre: 20 alumnos por aula y sin mascarilla y sin distancias hasta 4º de Primaria [online] Available at: https://www.rtve.es/noticias/20200428/sanchez-anuncia-plan-desescalada-tendra-cuatro-fases-durara-entre-seis-ocho-semanas/2012959.shtml [Accessed June 25 2020].

  7. Ministerio de Educacion y Formacion Profesional (2020) Los ministerios de Sanidad y de Educación y FP finalizan la guía de recomendaciones para el curso 2020-21, tras las aportaciones de las Comunidades Autónomas [online] [Accessed June 25 2020].

ISRAEL

Total population
  • 8.84 million

Date of first reported case of COVID-19
  • 21 February 2020

Epidemiological situation on 22nd June 2020
  • Confirmed cases: 22,044

  • Active cases: 5,796

  • Deaths: 308

  • Recovered: 15,940

School closures
  • Schools closed across the country on 12th March before other limitations were posed on other sectors. There were 1,622 total COVID-19 cases, 10 new daily cases and 35 daily deaths in the country at this time.

School opening macro policies
  • On 3rd May 2020, children in grades 1-3 and 11-12 were allowed to return to school for phased in-person teaching from 3rd May or to attend revision classes before key exams.

  • One week later, nurseries and kindergartens opened on a full-week or rotating half-week schedule, respectively.

  • The move was initially boycotted by several municipalities and many parents who cited poor government preparation

School opening micro policies
  • Classes were limited in size and mask-wearing was compulsory. School attendance was optional for all children, except for those taking matriculation exams.

Facilitators
  • Much like Italy, although, the long school closure period is detrimental to children, it does allow schools sufficient time to prepare for new distancing, hygiene and reporting measures.

Challenges
  • Not all schools have been able to fulfil the minimum compulsory teaching days since March. Although, an effort is being made to provide additional support now, not all schools and households have the right technology to enable online distance learning.

  • Laboratories for testing are overwhelmed with a surge in cases in June; resulting in some patients waiting days for test results.

Outcomes to date
  • As lockdown restrictions eased in the country, COVID-19 cases began to surge in early June. Since then clusters have appeared linked to multiple schools across the country resulting in total school closures; some reports suggest that 12% of new cases were detected in a school setting. This includes more than 100 cases from a single school in Jerusalem; which may have been a low probability “super spreading event”. In mid-June, at least 300 students and teachers had tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 100 schools had been shut.

Sources:

  1. The Times of Israel (2020) Education Ministry proposes reopening some schools starting May 3. Available at: https://www.timesofisrael.com/education-ministry-proposes-reopening-some-schools-starting-may-3/ [Accessed June 30 2020].

  2. Reuters (2020) Israeli children can go back to school from Sunday - Netanyahu. Available at: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-health-coronavirus-israel-schools/israeli-children-can-go-back-to-school-from-sunday-netanyahu-idUKKBN22Q356 [Accessed June 30 2020].

  3. Ministry of Education (2020) פורטל הורים [online] Available at: https://parents.education.gov.il/prhnet/parents/safety-emergency/back-to-school [Accessed June 25 2020].

  4. Sheva, A. (2020) 493 cases of coronavirus in Israel’s schools and preschools - Inside Israel [online] Available at: https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/281786 [Accessed June 25 2020].

  5. The Economist (2020) The Middle East is fighting a second wave of COVID-19 [online] [Accessed June 25 2020].

  6. Discussion with local government source.

  7. Clalit Health Services, (2020). חולי קורונה בישראל: תמונת מצב | שירותי בריאות כללית. Available at: https://www.clalit.co.il/he/your_health/family/Pages/corona_in_israel.aspx [Accessed July 19 2020]

NEW ZEALAND

Total population
  • 4.88 million

Date of first reported case of COVID-19
  • 28 February 2020

Epidemiological situation on 22nd June 2020
  • Confirmed cases: 1,519

  • Active cases: 3

  • Deaths: 22

  • Recovered: 1,484

School closures
  • Schools closed across the country on 23rd March along with other sectors. There was an incidence of 52 cases in the country and 0 deaths at the time of closure.

School opening macro policies
  • Schools reopened on 29th April 2020 using a phased approach while the country was at ‘Alert Level 3’, only allowing those who need supervision to return. In-person teaching was prioritized for children in primary to secondary school from years 1-10 ( aged 5-15 years) who could not study from home and whose parents needed to return to work. Although at the secondary school level, pupils in years 11-13 (aged 16-18 years) had to remain at home. All pupils had access to distance learning.

  • As the number of new cases fell and the alert level was lowered over the weeks, less restrictive measures were required in schools. At the current ‘Alert level 1’, no distancing rules apply and so all children can attend school at full capacity.

School opening micro policies
  • Clear government non-statutory guidelines have been available on the Ministry of Education website outlining key measures to be implemented at the four alert levels. The most restrictive measures - at level 4 – and the least restrictive measure – at level 1 are outlined in Table 2.

Facilitators
  • Early school closures before high transmission rates

  • Relatively small and low-density population

  • Clear, transparent and consistent government advice has been readily available for all schools and citizens to access. These guidelines were developed in collaboration with education and health leaders.

Challenges
  • All guidelines are non-statutory which may have resulted in varying approaches across the schools in the country. However, successful suppression of the virus meant that this was not an issue.

Outcomes to date
  • There have been no new cases of COVID-19 in schools.

Sources:

  1. The World Bank (2020) Dat: New Zealand. Available at: https://data.worldbank.org/country/newzealand [Accessed June 23, 2020].

  2. Worldometers.info (2020) Coronavirus Update (Live): 9,228,977 Cases and 475,145 Deaths from COVID-19 Virus Pandemic - Worldometer [online] [Accessed June 23 2020].

  3. Collins S. (2020) Covid 19 coronavirus: Schools reopen after lockdown - but one in six don’t expect any students. NZ Herald. Available at: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12319132 [Accessed May 1, 2020].

  4. New Zealand Government (2020) Alert Level 3 FAQs for Schools and Early Learning Centres. Education in New Zealand. Available at: https://education.govt.nz/COVID-19/alert-level-3-faqs-for-schools-and-early-learning-centres#Alert-level3 [Accessed May 1, 2020]

  5. New Zealand Government (2020). Alert Level 3 FAQs for Schools and Early Learning Centres. Education in New Zealand. https://education.govt.nz/COVID-19/alert-level-3-faqs-for-schools-and-early-learning-centres#Alert-level3 [Accessed May 1, 2020].

  6. New Zealand Government (2020). Alert Level 3 FAQs for Schools and Early Learning Centres. Education in New Zealand. http://www.education.govt.nz/COVID-19/alert-level-2-faqs-for-schools-and-early-learning-centres/ [Accessed May 1, 2020]

  7. New Zealand Government (2020) COVID-19 Alert System. Unite against COVID-19. https://COVID19.govt.nz/alert-system/COVID-19-alert-system/#alert-level-3%C2%A0%E2%80%94-restrict [Accessed May 1, 2020]

  8. New Zealand Government (2020) Advice for schools/kura [online] [Accessed 25th June 2020].

Australia

Total population
  • 24.88 million

Date of first reported case of COVID-19
  • 25 January 2020

Epidemiological situation on 22nd June 2020
  • Confirmed cases: 7,558

  • Active cases: 523

  • Deaths: 104

  • Recovered: 6,931

School closures
  • In Australia, schools were never closed as per advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee which drew a lot of criticism from local government and schools. Some independent and private schools chose to close. On 22-23 March, some state governments enacted local school closures.

School opening macro policies
  • In March, after the federal government released their response plan for COVID-19 - which stated that state and territory governments are responsible for operational aspects of social distancing. Some state governments brought forward school holidays and asked pupils who could work from home to do so to allow them to implement social distancing and appropriate hygiene measures.

  • At the start of the new term started in April, schools were open to students, but parents were free to use online learning tools if preferred.

  • Since mid-May, school attendance has made compulsory in most state and territories in Australia for those who are not in any high-risk categories. Further restrictions lifted on 15 June and all group activity will be back to normal in all states by the state of Term 3, in the 3rd week of July.

School opening micro policies
  • Clear government non-statutory guidelines have been prepared by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), allowing varying measures to be implemented at the four alert levels. The most restrictive measures - at level 4 – and the least restrictive measure – at level 1 are outlined in Table 2.

Facilitators
  • Early school closures before high transmission rates

  • Relatively small and low-density population

  • Clear, transparent and consistent government advice has been readily available for all schools and citizens to access. These guidelines were developed in collaboration with the education and health leaders.

Challenges
  • The Federal government received a lot of criticism for not closing schools early and for inconsistent messaging on how and when schools would open.

Outcomes to date

A study of the transmission of coronavirus in both primary and secondary schools, conducted by Australia’s National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance found that there was “very limited” spread in schools. The study, from March to mid-April, looked at transmission rates from nine students and nine staff members who tested positive for Covid-19 from 15 different schools. Despite 735 students and 128 staff coming into close contacts with these initial 18 cases, only two people were found to have contracted the virus.

Individual school closures: To date, there have been few outbreaks in schools, e.g. two colleges in Sydney were closed at the end of May 2020 after one student in each school tested positive for COVID-19 and a primary school in Melbourne was closed in mid-June after two pupils also tested positive. There have been no reports of multiple secondary transmissions in schools.

Sources:

  1. Australian Government Department of Health (2020) Australian Health

    Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advice on reducing the potential risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools (24 April 2020) [online] [Accessed June 25 2020].

  2. Rouse, A. (2020) Melbourne primary school closed after coronavirus

    scare [online] Available at: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8420019/Melbourne-primary-school-closed-two-students-test-positive-coronavirus.html [Accessed June 25 2020].

  3. Davey, M. (2020) ’Confusing and stressful’: the debate around

    children and coronavirus as Australian schools reopen [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/27/confusing-and-stressful-the-debate-around-children-and-coronavirus-as-australian-schools-reopen [Accessed June 25 2020].

  4. The World Bank (2020) Data: Australia. Available

    at:https://data.worldbank.org/country/Australia. Accessed June 23, 2020.

  5. Department of Education, Skills and Employment (2020) Coronavirus

    (COVID-19) information for schools and students [online] [Accessed June 25 2020].

  6. Government of Australia (2020) COVID-19 and school arrangements for

    Term 3 2020 - Education [online] [Accessed 25th June 2020].

  7. Department of Education – Government of New South Wales (2020) A

    guide to NSW school students returning to face-to-face learning [online] [Accessed June 25 2020].

  8. Department of Education – Government of Western Australia

    (2020) Term 2 schooling arrangements - Department of Education [online] [Accessed June 25 2020].

  9. Landis-Hanley, J. (2020) Two schools in Sydney’s east closed after

    students test positive for Covid-19 [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/may/26/coronavirus-nsw-schools-closed-students-test-positive-COVID-19-sydney-east-waverley-moriah-college [Accessed June 25 2020].

  10. Worldometers.info (2020) Coronavirus Update (Live): 9,228,977 Cases

    and 475,145 Deaths from COVID-19 Virus Pandemic - Worldometer [online] [Accessed June 23 2020].