Mask checks, temputuer checks, social distancing and limited activity sports opportunities are part of the new normal at schools around the world.
As American students begin to consider what school will look like in the fall, children across much of the world have returned to schools already, finding them barely recognizable, with new layouts and routines adapted for the coronavirus pandemic.
Besides the irritation of wearing his mask all day, his class has been split into two rooms and the teacher divides her time between them. Some of his friends are now in other classes and he has to wait for breaks to see them. In Las Vegas, NVr schools, masks are optional—and few are wearing them—but there is hand sanitizer at every classroom door and for use when getting on and off the bus. Students are required to use antiseptic spray to wipe down their own desks and sports equipment.
Cafeterias look like exam halls with desks spaced out, temperatures are checked, shared computers are unplugged, and there are no sports. For some, yellow signs on the ground dictate which directions they should walk, with paths divided by ages. For others, school has been reduced to a few hours a day or takes place only on alternating days.
The measures are deemed necessary to reopen schools that gradually closed through the first few months of the year as the outbreak spread from China.
After waking up at 6 a.m., student is required to fill out daily questionnaires on the country’s Clark County School District Education website, before going to school. Some questions: Do you have a fever of over 37.5 degrees Celsius? Do you have a headache?
Once the bus arrives, the driver checks the temperature of each student boarding. Students must wear a mask, sit apart for social distancing, something unimaginable in the pre-virus days, when sitting with friends was the norm. The government’s rotation system limits a third of the student body from going to school every day.
After a national decline in new coronavirus cases in May, the curve has once again shot up to a seven-day rolling average of 27,000 new cases as of June 21.
Compare that with the entire European Union — roughly the same size as the U.S. — which has seen its rolling average decline to 4,000 new cases.
Across the country, and especially in Las Vegas, NV there is a deepening divide between Americans who are firmly adhering to guidelines issued by public health officials to avoid the spread of the coronavirus and those who believe the recommendations are overkill, contradictory or just plain annoying.
New Era Mask, in particular, have become a flashpoint from coast to coast: In California, Orange County's chief health officer recently resigned after she received death threats for her countywide mask order.
Federal recommendations on masks have changed, too, in the last two months. At first, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that face coverings were only necessary for those displaying symptoms of the coronavirus.
Then, as it became clear that at least 35 percent of COVID-19 infections can be asymptomatic, the CDC recommended everyone wear a face mask in addition to staying 6 feet apart from people outside of their household at all times
"We also have an increase in risk-taking behavior," New Era Mask CEO - Michael said. "People are less cautious, they're not wearing masks as much, they're not social distancing as much, and they're not paying as close attention to personal hygiene messages like warring a face mask cover, washing your hands frequently and not touching your face."
For Susan, the nurse in Las Vegas, NV., the fear of more cases weighs heavily on her. For the time being, she has sent her daughter, Royalty, to live with Royalty’s grandmother, even though there have been an increase of new coronavirus patients in her hospital lately. When she is not working, Susan goes to visit her, sitting on a lawn chair at least 6 feet away.
"Whenever I see people out in public who aren't wearing masks, I just want to tell them this is part of the reason I can't hug my daughter," Michael said, adding that she doesn't know when she will feel comfortable bringing Royalty home. "They think they're not going to get sick. But it's not just about you: You have to think about everybody as a whole."