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Outdoor learning in windy weather

This summer, teachers rolled up their t-shirt sleeves and decided to prepare an outdoor learning plan. A teacher from Wisconsin worked with her students to build a 12-sided outdoor classroom. A school in New York ran rooftop classes. A district superintendent in Maine purchased all the Adirondack chairs she could find.

But now, less than a month before the winter solstice, it’s cold. Some days it rains. Other days there is snow. And often the elements pose a big challenge to learning outdoors.

Many outdoor schools loosely follow the Iowa Department of Public Health’s child care weather monitoring guidelines, which suggest that children can be outdoors indefinitely when the temperature is above 32 degrees and that the winds are less than 15 miles per hour. Children should be more closely supervised in lower temperatures or with stronger winds. And below 13 degrees, according to the guidelines, young children should stay indoors, while older ones can only be outdoors briefly.

Many schools did not have the time, or the funding, to plan for the unexpected, Melinda Wenner Moyer reported for The Times. But people got creative. Here are some strategies that might work to keep students in nature longer.

  • Speed ​​exchanges: To overcome winter clothing shortages, many schools have organized clothing drives, where parents can swap out old coats and cold-weather accessories.

  • A boost snack: The Juniper Hill School in Alna, Maine, which has long embraced outdoor learning, offers hot tea. The school also advises parents to pack extra snacks (for energy) and isolated, hot meals (to warm up) on colder days.

  • Hot water bottles: It works for students at Monadnock Waldorf School in Keene, NH. “They’re just going to put them on in their snow pants and go hiking with their hearts warm,” said Nell Wiener, program manager. Just be sure to wrap the rubber in fabric so it doesn’t burn their skin.

  • Make them tremble: Go on an expedition or try kinetic learning. “If I think the kids are cold, I just put them to work. We’ll be stacking firewood, ”said Adrienne Hofmann, early childhood director for Juniper Hill.

  • Layers, layers, layers: For indoor wear, wool is better than cotton because it “can get wet and still keep you warm,” said Matthew Schlein, founder of the Walden Project public school program in Vergennes, Vermont. For outer layers and mittens, consider waterproofing.

And don’t forget: it’s normal for the first cold spells of each year to be difficult. “It takes a long time for children to be like, ‘Oh, my hands are so cold, I can’t use them. That’s why I should wear my mittens, ”said Hofmann. And when it’s too windy, there’s nothing wrong with a backup plan.

“If we didn’t plan to go above 12 degrees at noon, then we would have a distant day,” Wiener said.


In the days leading up to the chaotic closure of New York’s public schools last week, parents who had kept their children at home also had to decide whether they wanted to switch to in-person learning for the rest of the school year. .

Unsurprisingly, only 35,000 more children in New York City chose to return to class. When and if the city reopens the school, less than a third of New York’s 1.1 million public school students will learn in the classroom.

The anemic response is another challenge for Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has repeatedly stated that he has a mandate from parents to reopen schools, despite a bitter debate between parents, educators and city hall.

For more on this story, check out our colleague Eliza Shapiro’s segment on The Daily, which includes an interview with de Blasio.


  • the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa may require its students and staff to return to campus in January. Only those who have a medical excuse would be exempt.

  • The coach of Miami University football team, Manny Diaz, has tested positive for the coronavirus.

  • the Charleston College has chosen to maintain its grading policy, despite calls from students for an optional pass-fail system during the pandemic.

  • Students of University of Delaware are coming home for the Thanksgiving vacation. But about 1,050 students plan to return to campus to complete the semester, Patrick LaPorte reported for The Review, the student newspaper.

  • George Washington University may continue to lay off staff, despite the benchmark shifting several times over when the university announced it would complete the process, Zach Schonfeld reported for The GW Hatchet, the student newspaper.

  • A student voice: “I am much less motivated than I think during my two previous years”, Kansas University said Sophia Misle, a reporter for the University Daily Kansan, the student newspaper.

  • A good read: Matt Cohen, Colin Kulpa, and Vivek Rao took a close look at The Indiana Daily Student to find out how Indiana University in Bloomington has resisted the pandemic. The university, one of the largest in the country, is a case study of how administrators across the country coped with a chaotic semester.

We would love to continue presenting student reports on the pandemic. Please email Amelia with links.

  • Through Navajo Nation, and in other rural areas, students find it difficult to do without in-person school.

  • Two high schools in the Baltimore region canceled their annual “Turkey Bowl” football game for the first time in a century.

  • Some schools of Oklahoma began to develop their own policies, defying guidelines from the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Rhode Island, which has long pushed to keep classrooms open, will begin to allow high schools to do more distance learning.

  • An opinion: Emily Oster, professor of economics at Brown University, explored school transmission in the Washington Post: “The best available data suggests that infection rates in schools simply reflect the prevalence of Covid-19 in the surrounding community – and that tackling the spread of the community is where our efforts need to be focused. “

  • A good read: Distance learning doesn’t work for many Texas students, who fail courses at higher than normal rates. “Parents and students describe a system in which children fail, not necessarily because they don’t understand the material, but because the process of their teaching is so broken that it is difficult to succeed,” Aliyya wrote. Texas Tribune Swaby.

  • In memory: Education Week has created an online memorial for educators who have died from coronavirus or related complications.


“I can’t stop cheating on Zoom, so should I do nothing?” What is my responsibility in creating an environment where everyone is on the same evaluation plane? A teacher named Humberto B. asked The Ethicist, a Times Magazine column.

Columnist Kwame Anthony Appiah had some suggestions. Make it harder to cheat on the test. Then remind students of the immorality behind academic dishonesty.

“It’s disrespectful to your teachers, and of course, it’s unfair to other students who played by the rules, given that your work may be ranked higher than it should be,” Kwame wrote.

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