Covid-19 and beyond: we need different schools!
At the moment, it remains unknown how and when the current global Covid-19 crisis will end, and when we will return to normality. However, Covid-19 has highlighted that the design of most schools is unsuitable for an effective, evidence-based and joyful education. Across the world, a different kind of school is needed. A school that is prepared for future pandemics or other type of crisis. A school that is decentralised, spacious, and resilient.
A decentralised set-up at Montessori Mallorca
Long before Covid-19, the Montessori School of Mallorca has designed and invested in a unique and innovative learning environment that is very different to that found in most state and private schools on the island. In our school compound in Santa Maria del Camí, our classrooms are clustered around a 400-year-old wind mill. Our ‘Molí de Son Gulla’ is a legacy of a pre-industrial society, which harnessed the forces of nature to drive its economic activity.
Our large classrooms, lots of outdoor space
In the event of a pandemic like Covid-19, the unique environment at our school makes it far easier to comply with safety regulations and ensure a safe learning environment. The school’s large outside area, spacious classrooms, dedicated ventilation systems and a decentralised set-up make social distancing far easier than in a traditional school. Typically, learning spaces in more traditional schools are confined to individual classroom connected by corridors and staircases. Access to the outside is often restricted and limited to either a playground or other hard surfaced areas.
In our school, each pupil has on average nearly 5m2 of indoor classroom space. Our current classrooms currently consist of six separated rooms with a total of nearly 400m2. Once our building for Secondary education is finished, this will bring our classroom space up to 600m2. Further, our children can make us of 5.000m2 of outdoor space, which is currently over 50m2 per child.
The inside of our classrooms connects with the outside world through large windows and direct access to the outside areas. Students can move freely outside during periods of independent and collaborative learning to a variety of inspirational spaces where they feel they can best work.
Our Covid-19 experience
When the government announced on March 12th that all schools have to remain closed, we were well prepared: A day later, we shared with all parents our E-learning Action Plan. We broke up our classrooms into small learning groups of 4-6 pupils and put together detailed weekly schedules.
Each week, we evaluated our programme. Based on feedback from parents, we added psychological support services for pupils and parents, additional fun activities like music and yoga, and weekly circle time with parents.
Understanding the difficult situation that some of our parents were in, we offered a free online Easter Camp during the holidays, and a free two-week Summer Camp in our school.