This week, as younger children across Denmark walked onto school grounds, school bags on their backs and holding parents by the hand, things seemed almost normal. Almost.
Jimmy Skov Glasdam Adetunji, head of secondary education at the Hendriksholm School in Rodovre, just outside Copenhagen, spent Wednesday going through classrooms with a measuring stick to ensure the 440 students could be seated at least two meters (six feet) apart when they arrived on Thursday.
He had split the schoolyard into six sections with red and white barrier tape, and sent a detailed diagram to parents outlining staggered arrival times, routes, breaks and lunch times.
“I can’t wait to see the kids again,” Adetunji said. “But we will obviously have to talk about the pandemic and the rules and why our playground is now marked by police tape. So, it’s going to be a contrast between fun and seriousness.”
A few miles away, in Bronshoj, Philip Mundt was dropping his six-year old son Emil for his first day back. “He is so excited,” Philip said, laughing. “All the way here, he’s been talking about how he’s going to see his friends and that this is the best day of his life. He is really looking forward to this.”
Schools across Denmark raised flags in celebration as they welcomed back younger students this week, with an excitement comparable to a first day of school. And it is the first day of school in over a month, after Denmark announced widespread closures on March 11 to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The country was among the first in Europe to close borders, shops, schools and restaurants, and to ban large gatherings, among other measures. Now, it is one of the first to begin reopening.