What you need to know about Norway's schools reopening

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What you need to know about Norway's schools reopening
Schools are encouraged to do as much tuition as possible outside: Photo: NTB Scanpix/Oslo Kommune

On Monday schools will open in Norway for the first four classes. Here's what you need to do to prepare and what you should expect it to be like.


When are schools opening? 
Norway's government announced on April 7 that elementary schools would be allowed to reopen from April 27 across Norway for the first four years of education, so for children between the ages of 6 and 11.
While the opening of kindergartens was staggered, most municipalities in Norway seem to be opening schools at the same time, but get in contact with your child's school, and with the local municipality to be absolutely sure. 
Do I have to send my child to school? 
No. Under Norwegian law, parents are allowed to homeschool, so long as they give their children an equivalent education. According to a guide by the Norwegian Homeschooling Federation, parents need only notify their local municipality in writing of their intention to homeschool. The municipality should then get in contact to offer advice and cooperation. 
In its advice on the school reopening, the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training, informs parents that deciding to homeschool means withdrawing their child from the Norwegian public school system, and therefore foregoing the right to special needs education, and the final grades needed for access to higher education.
When should I keep my child home? 
If your child is sick with even mild symptoms which could be coronavirus, then you should keep them home. They can return to school once they have been free of symptoms for one day. 
Hay fever symptoms, such as a runny nose and itchy eyes should not be a reason to stay home. 


If a member of your child's household has a confirmed case of coronavirus, then the child should be quarantined and should not attend school.
If a member of the child's family is ill, even if they themselves suspect coronavirus, but has not been tested, the child can go to school as normal.
If your child has recently had an organ, or bone marrow transplant, is currently being treated for cancer, or a severe immune disorder, severe lung disease or severe heart disease, or if they are taking immunosuppressive medicine for another reason, you should discuss whether they should stay at home with your doctor. 
The Norwegian Society of Pediatricians had ruled that the following conditions should generally not be a reason to stay at home: diabetes, asthma, allergies, epilepsy, Downs syndrome, congenital heart defects, children with autoimmune disorders that require immune suppression, children born prematurely. 
If someone the child lives with is in a risk group, the person at risk should contact their doctor to discuss the need to make special arrangements with the school to limit the risk of infection, with the aim, if possible, of the child being able to attend school.   


What should I do differently when the school starts and ends?  
According to the guidelines, parents should ensure that students wash their hands before leaving home to go to school. 
The directorate recommends schools to assign each small group of students an assembly point in the schoolyard, and different times for them to meet the member of staff who will greet them. You should be in touch with your school to discover what arrangements have been made. 
You should not come into the school building to help your child leave their coat and boots in the cloakroom, unless absolutely necessary. 
You should if possible avoid taking your child to school on public transport. If there is a school bus, students should sit one seat apart from one another. 
What will be different at school once my child arrives? 
Under the guidelines issued to schools, they have been asked to divided classes into so-called 'kohorts' with a maximum of 15 pupils per teacher, so your child may find that they've been split from a close friend. This could be difficult, as to minimise the risk of spreading the infection, the groups are supposed to both study and play together, with only minimal interaction with the other groups. 
Even within the groups, elder children should be encouraged to try to maintain a 1m distance from one another. Younger students will not be expected to manage this. 
If two groups (IE the whole former class) collaborate together on an activity, this should probably take place outside. 
Teachers can change the composition of each group at the start of each school week. 
Students will be asked not to share food, and ideally to eat at their desks in their group, with a distance maintained between each student. 
If the school has a dining room, then different group should eat at different times. 
Stationary, tablets and other materials should not be shared between groups until they have been cleaned. 
Toys should not be taken from home. 
What hygiene measures will be in place? 
Children should wash their hands on arrival at school, after coughing or sneezing, after going to the toilet, before and after meals, when arriving from an outside activity or break. 
There should be extra hand-washing facilities, either with soap and water or with alcohol hand-sanitiser. 
After eating, tables and chairs need to be washed. 
Children will be asked to wash their desks at the end of every day. 
Toilet seats and taps should be washed between two and four times a day 
Toys, sports equipment, tablets, shared computers and keyboards must also be washed at least daily.


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