SANDWICH, Mass. — As communities wrestle with what the new school year will look like, some experts believe outdoor classes might be the best way to reopen schools. One school on the Cape is doing just that. The students will be learning outside, likely even in the winter.
Construction is almost complete at the Waldorf School of Cape Cod, which is moving to a new location in Sandwich, but many of the students may not actually spend much time inside their new classrooms.
“Being outside is really a big part of our culture as a school anyway so adding more time outside was natural,” said Roxanne King, director of the Waldorf School of Cape Cod.
The school will have 60 students from nursery school through 6th grade when they return in-person on September 16. Many of them will be learning in outdoor tents.
The portable classrooms look sort of a like an igloo.
“It allows us to put up more structures, be flexible, [and] really reducing the amount of people indoors at the same time, so there is much more open airflow,” King said.
The school has more than three and a half acres, so it has the luxury of spreading students outside in the fresh air.
That’s something the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, recommended during a recent online discussion with Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo. He said schools should be outdoors as much as possible.
“Outdoors is always better than indoors with good ventilation when the weather permits,” said Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Fauci also said communities with higher case counts should focus on remote learning until the rate declines, while those with low virus levels should be allowed to open for in-person classes like the Waldorf School is doing with its outdoor classrooms.
“It’s cozy, it’s a cozy little dome. We haven’t put our furniture in it yet,” King said.
The Waldorf School of Cape Cod plans to use its tents year-round, even in the winter. They’re trying to figure out the best way to heat the $1,500 portable classrooms.
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