- Maya Reed, reporter
European Countries Returning to Lockdown After Coronavirus Spike
As temperatures drop in many places around the world, global coronavirus cases are spiking again. Worldwide, there have been over 47,000,000 cases and 1,200,000 deaths since the pandemic hit earlier this year.
Despite many places easing restrictions as the number of Covid-19 cases began to drop this summer, some countries have started to reconsider their return to normalcy and question if lifting restrictions was done too early. Many European countries have seen a dramatic rise in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in recent weeks. Ireland, Belgium, Spain, and Italy have announced that they are tightening restrictions on daily life in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.
France and Germany are taking it a step further and returning to lockdown. The French government announced a complete lockdown from Oct. 30 through Dec. 1. People must stay home except to seek medical attention, buy essential items, or use their one hour of daily exercise. Any store, restaurant, or cafe not selling essential items must close down for the first two weeks of the shutdown. All work must be done remotely unless an employer deems it impossible.
In Germany, a new lockdown had been implemented from Nov. 2 through Nov. 30. All restaurants, bars, theatres, gyms, and pools are to be closed. Travel for private, nonessential reasons has been banned. Private gatherings have been limited to 10 people from no more than two households.
Despite the new precautionary measures, both Germany and France are allowing schools to remain open during the lockdown periods. The French government says because original school reopenings did not cause a significant impact in coronavirus cases, there is no need to shut down schools again. Safety plans and precautions in schools are still in effect across both countries. Policymakers insist that schools are applying the lessons they learned earlier in the pandemic and are ready to reclose schools if necessary.
The United States' Covid-19 response for the 2020-2021 school year has been a mixed bag and varies greatly depending on the state, city, and school district. Many schools delayed starting dates, while others started as early as the first weeks of August. Some schools are entirely remote and online, others have returned in-person with little change, and most have returned to school with some blend of online and in person.
In the Wichita area, Maize, Kapaun Mt. Carmel, and Andover, among others, have returned partially in person and are moving towards expanding the amount of time students are in the classroom for face-to-face learning. Wichita Public Schools (WPS) opted for an entirely online start to the school year for middle and high school students but is looking to bring some of those students back into the classroom beginning Nov. 12. There will be a meeting Monday, Nov. 9, to vote on whether or not that will be possible.
There is still a great amount of uncertainty moving forward about how school will look in the coming months, and votes determining the future of the school year are regularly being held. Regardless, colder temperatures and schools increasing in-person learning will almost certainly have an impact on coronavirus case numbers. How governments and school districts respond to the change in Covid-19 case numbers is critical in defeating the coronavirus pandemic.