Photo Tour: What Back to School Looked Like in 16 Countries Around the World, Where Little About the Classroom (or Family Garage) Feels Familiar Amid the Pandemic
By Meghan Gallagher | September 21, 2020
Pupils wearing protective mask queue at the cafeteria for lunch in Brequigny high school in Rennes, western France, on September 1, 2020 on the first day of the school year amid the Covid-19 epidemic. - French pupils go back to school on September 1 as schools across Europe open their doors to greet returning pupils this month, nearly six months after the coronavirus outbreak forced them to close and despite rising infection rates across the continent. (Photo by Damien Meyer / AFP) (Photo by DAMIEN MEYER/AFP via Getty Images)
The first day of school is a major milestone, no matter your grade, age or hometown. But back to school during this strange and disorienting year, amid an ongoing public health crisis, means something much different.
Depending on where you live, it feels radically different too.
Over the past few weeks, as new photos have emerged from schools around the planet, we’ve seen fleeting glimpses of normalcy: German students clutching their sugar cones, Ukrainian students greeted by bells and balloons, friends sharing much-delayed hugs across various continents. But zoom back a bit and that modicum of normalcy quickly fades into the background, obscured by masks, disinfectant sprays, distanced classrooms, shuttered hallways and one-way campuses.
Line up these photos from 16 different countries and you see the surreal mosaic of public education circa 2020.
See and share our global back to school gallery below, from England, where Education Secretary Gavin Williamson called students’ return to school a “massive milestone,” to China, where about 195 million students have already returned to in-person learning at public schools.