3 Lessons from the Spanish Influenza on how to reopen schools

As countries weigh when and how to reopen schools for children around the world, the 1918 Spanish Influenza could provide some guidance on best practices for returning to the classroom after a pandemic. While times have certainly changed since the early 1900s, the steps schools took may inform educators and policymakers today. 

The first key step taken was investing in school nurses. First introduced in 1902, school nurses did more than just send sick students home. They also treated pupils and offered medical advice and information to families. A November 1918 report by the New York City Health Commissioner Royal Copeland highlighted the importance of school nurses in reopening schools and ensuring the health of students. 

Second, schools partnered with other local institutions and authorities for comprehensive disease response. For example, in Los Angeles, the mayor, health commissioner, police chief, and school superintendent worked together to monitor infection rates and provide schoolwork to sick children at home. In St. Louis, the collaboration between schools and officials led to a successful gradual reopening in which youngest students returned first and classrooms progressively added older children to the mix. 

Lastly, coming out of the pandemic, schools and officials tied education into other wellness priorities. On top of adding school nurses, they looked at other areas of student welfare and added lunch programs, outdoor play areas, and more development-boosting initiatives. Additionally, they took the opportunity to introduce new child labor laws and made public school attendance compulsory. In this way, schools returned stronger than ever.

These historical examples show us that school reopening is a multifaceted and complex process. St Louis, for example, reopened schools only to have to close them with the onslaught of a new outbreak. The process of opening schools today will not be easy, and may not be for a while, but looking at the prioritization of overall wellness and preventative measures in 1918 classrooms can teach us a thing or two about reopening in 2020. 

Solution News Source

3 Lessons from the Spanish Influenza on how to reopen schools

As countries weigh when and how to reopen schools for children around the world, the 1918 Spanish Influenza could provide some guidance on best practices for returning to the classroom after a pandemic. While times have certainly changed since the early 1900s, the steps schools took may inform educators and policymakers today. 

The first key step taken was investing in school nurses. First introduced in 1902, school nurses did more than just send sick students home. They also treated pupils and offered medical advice and information to families. A November 1918 report by the New York City Health Commissioner Royal Copeland highlighted the importance of school nurses in reopening schools and ensuring the health of students. 

Second, schools partnered with other local institutions and authorities for comprehensive disease response. For example, in Los Angeles, the mayor, health commissioner, police chief, and school superintendent worked together to monitor infection rates and provide schoolwork to sick children at home. In St. Louis, the collaboration between schools and officials led to a successful gradual reopening in which youngest students returned first and classrooms progressively added older children to the mix. 

Lastly, coming out of the pandemic, schools and officials tied education into other wellness priorities. On top of adding school nurses, they looked at other areas of student welfare and added lunch programs, outdoor play areas, and more development-boosting initiatives. Additionally, they took the opportunity to introduce new child labor laws and made public school attendance compulsory. In this way, schools returned stronger than ever.

These historical examples show us that school reopening is a multifaceted and complex process. St Louis, for example, reopened schools only to have to close them with the onslaught of a new outbreak. The process of opening schools today will not be easy, and may not be for a while, but looking at the prioritization of overall wellness and preventative measures in 1918 classrooms can teach us a thing or two about reopening in 2020. 

Solution News Source

SIGN UP

TO GET A Free DAILY DOSE OF OPTIMISM

Optimist Subscriber
Delivery Frequency *
reCAPTCHA

We respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously. Privacy Policy