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Photo Tour: What school, class & safety look like in 8 countries around the world as students return after coronavirus

Meghan Gallagher | May 26, 2020

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After months of skyrocketing coronavirus cases, shuttered schools and remote learning, the push around the world to reopen campuses and bring students back to class raises a new wave of questions and concerns.

What will a school day look like in a time of social distancing?

How will classrooms and learning change?

How will district leaders ensure that both educators and students are safe?

For schools that have already opened, like the Phoenix Gymnasium secondary school in Dortmund, Germany, back-to-school means reinventing practices; from social distance strategies to desk arrangements and many, many signs. (Last month we also took a photo tour of one Denmark school that had reconceived the school day)

As other countries in Europe and Asia now also reopen, the concept and routine of school is changing around the globe. We’ve scoured the photo wires for glimpses of this new normal — here are some of the memorable moments photographers are capturing as school communities come back together amid a public health crisis:


Teachers in Heppenheim, Germany prepare placards with hygiene rules for the school children. (Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

Desks are taped off with social-distancing markings during preparations for reopening. Certain precautions will accompany the resumption of learning, including keeping pupils socially-distanced and the wearing of protective face masks. (Alex Grimm / Getty Images)


Teachers clean and disinfect chairs and tables at the Phoenix Gymnasium secondary school in Dortmund, Germany, on April 21. (Ina Fassbender / Getty Images)

Staff lay out welcome messages on the tables in a classroom during preparations for reopening the temporarily-closed Schloss-Schule elementary school. (Alex Grimm / Getty Images)

Students are testing the new hygiene lock at the entrance to the Achtalschule in Baienfurt, Germany. Students are able to disinfect their hands every time after washing. (Felix Kästle / Getty Images)

Volker Kamolz, head of Germany’s Erich Weinert primary school, writes “Finally back” on the blackboard in a classroom with chalk. The staff and teachers of this primary school in Eisenhüttenstadt prepared everything necessary for the return of two 6th grade classes on May 5. The classes will now be divided into four groups of 10 pupils each. (Patrick Pleul / Getty Images)

At the Innerstädtisches Gymnasium in Rostock, Deputy Headmistress Regine Koch is in charge of a 12th-grade English language course. The approximately 20,480 students who are preparing for the Mittlere Reife, a vocational qualification, will be given the opportunity to prepare for the exams at school with the help of the teachers. (Bernd Wüstneck / Getty Images)

After a six week break, some graduating classes in Bavaria are back in school (Sven Hoppe / Getty Images)

(Sven Hoppe / Getty Images)

Notes with corona instructions hang on a blackboard in a classroom in Gleichense Grammar School. (Bodo Schackow / Getty Images)

A poster draws attention to the compulsory wearing of masks at the vocational school 1 Gewerbe und Technik (BBS1). Schools in Germany are gradually reopening after the corona lockdown. Initially, about 110,000 pupils of the final year classes are to return to their classes. (Andreas Arnold / Getty Images)

Seniors at Gemeinschaftsschule West will be allowed back to school with special hygienic measures to avoid infection, such as stickers of feet and arrows to indicate direction of movement. (Sebastian Gollnow / Getty Images)


Primorye Territory in Russia began switching back to classroom teaching with underfilled schools being the first to welcome pupils. (Yuri Smityuk / Getty Images)

The headmistress screens a pupil’s temperature at the entrance to No 8 Comprehensive School in the village of Nezhino. (Yuri Smityuk / Getty Images)

(Yuri Smityuk / Getty Images)

(Yuri Smityuk / Getty Images)

Pupils are seen during a geography lesson at No 8 Comprehensive School in the village of Nezhino, north of Vladivostok on April 16. (Yuri Smityuk / Getty Images)


A pupil in a face mask shows the Black Sea on a map during a geography lesson at No 8 Comprehensive School (Yuri Smityuk / Getty Images)


A student washes her hands in a temporary sink in the schoolyard. Students have returned to school in Aarhus, Denmark after four weeks of lockdown. (Kristian Buus / Getty Images)

Students must wash hands vigorously when they leave and enter a class and must observe distance when possible. Students are put together in groups of no more than three and are only allowed to work and play within that group. (Kristian Buus / Getty Images)

Teams of cleaners clean the school regularly during the day with sanitizers to the schools in Aarhus. (Kristian Buus / Getty Images)

(Kristian Buus / Getty Images)


(Kristian Buus / Getty Images)



A student has temperature taken before entering Shaanxi Normal University Jinyuan Primary School in Xi’an, northwest of China’s Shaanxi Province, on April 27. Primary school students in grades 4 to 6 in Xi’an returned to school last month. (Liu Xiao/Xinhua / Getty Images)

Students are transferred to a gymnasium to ensure a safe distance between seats at Guangqumen Middle School in Beijing on April 27. (Chen Zhonghao/Xinhua / Getty Images)

Senior students do physical exercise at a high school affiliated with East China Normal University in Shanghai. (Xinhua/Liu Ying / Getty Images)

Students have lunch at Shaanxi Normal University Jinyuan Primary School in Xi’an, northwest of China’s Shaanxi Province. (Xinhua/Liu Xiao / Getty Images)

New Zealand

Kaipara Flats school teacher Allie Stucke writes Covid-19 instructions on the white board as a small number of students returned to school last month in Auckland, New Zealand. (Fiona Goodall / Getty Images)

Schools reopened on April 28 for children up to Year 10 who could not study from home, or whose parents had to return to work (Fiona Goodall / Getty Images)


An Israeli pupil wearing protective gear at Hashalom elementary in the suburbs of Jerusalem sanitizes her desk upon return to school after the coronavirus lockdown last week. (Emmanuel Dunand / Getty Images)


Israeli elementary schools were given the green light to bring back students of first through third grades, as the country looks to gradually transition back into a more normal routine after seven weeks of confinement measures. (Jack Guez / Getty Images)

Students attend a class at the Sadot Elementary School as the country eases lockdown restrictions amid the pandemic, in the town of Pardes Hanna-Karkur in central Israel. (Jack Guez / Getty Images)


A girl washes her hand at the Alix de Bretagne school in Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier last Thursday. Schools in France will gradually start to reopen Monday, as restrictions ease, but the Alix de Bretagne school had remained open to the medical staff’s children. (Jean-Francois Monier / Getty Images)

Teacher Pierre-Yves Massiot puts tape on the ground to mark safe distance areas in a classroom of the Alix de Bretagne school. (Jean-Francois Monier/ Getty Images)


Students sit at desks with plastic partitions, as a preventive measure to curb the spread of coronavirus, during a lesson at Dajia Elementary School in Taipei on April 29. (Sam Yeh / Getty Images)


Students also eat their lunch behind plastic partitions on April 29. (Sam Yeh / Getty Images)

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