THE world’s schools are slowly reopening as kids greet each other with “air hugs” and work behind plastic shields.
Schools in many countries have been closed down for weeks or even months to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
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After an extended unplanned holiday, kids in some places are now heading back to classrooms.
Children in Germany, Canada, Australia, China, Switzerland, Denmark, Greece, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Israel, Finland and the Netherlands have all been allowed to return.
But the reality they are going back to is very different to the one they remember, with spaced out desks and physical contact banned.
Britain, on the other hand, is yet to send any kids back, with plans to reopen schools for some youngsters in June facing opposition from teachers’ unions.
Primary school kids headed back to school this week.
But classes have been split in half to maintain social distancing – with one half being taught in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
And parents have also been told to drop their kids at the gate instead of walking them to their classrooms.
One school in Den Bosch even installed plastic shields around students' desks.
The Netherlands has had 43,680 cases of coronavirus and 5,609 deaths.
Most Finnish kids went back to school today after lockdown measures were relaxed in the country.
Children and teachers were seen greeting each other with “air hugs” as they saw one another for the first time in weeks.
Pupils were also told to wear gloves to guard against the virus, as teachers guided them on how far apart to stand while lining up for classes.
Finland has had 6,145 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 287 deaths.
Kids have been slowly returning to class across China, region by region – including in Wuhan just over a week ago.
Pictures show pupils having temperature checks using thermal scanners and mouth swab coronavirus tests to stop the disease returning.
Only the older students – who have exams coming up – were allowed back to school in the initial wave.
Others are due to go back later this year.
China has announced 84,025 coronavirus cases and 4,637 deaths, although some have accused the communist regime of underplaying the severity of its outbreak.
French nursery schools reopened this week, but with strict social distancing.
Pictures emerged from one school in the country’s north showing young kids sitting alone in the playground inside chalk “isolation squares”.
The majority of French schools remain shut, but the closures will be reviewed on June 1.
Restrictions may then be eased further in so-called “green” areas, where infection numbers remain low.
The country has had 178,184 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 27,077 deaths.
Schools reopened in the French-speaking region of Quebec this week, despite this being where most cases in the country were recorded.
Primary and nursery schools outside the province's largest city Montreal were allowed to restart lessons, with reduced class sizes and social distancing in place.
All daycare centres and primary schools in the region are set to reopen by May 19.
But schools are yet to head back in neighbouring Ontario, where no date has yet been set.
Canada has recorded 73,612 cases of coronavirus and 5,425 deaths.
German schools have gone back, but many have split classes in two, teaching the different halves on alternate days.
Parents across the country have therefore had their kids at home every other day, causing problems with returning to work.
Pupils have to wear masks around the building and in the playground, but most can take them off once they get into class.
Germany has reported 174,098 cases of coronavirus, with 7,861 deaths.
Schools in New South Wales – Australia’s biggest state – reopened on Monday, with kids coming in for just one day a week on a staggered basis.
Queensland also announced a staggered return to school starting on the same date, with young children and those facing exams the first to come back.
Most schoolkids across Western and Southern Australia have also gone back, while Victoria schools will go back from May 27.
Aussie PM Scott Morrison has said he hopes all children will be back in class by June.
Australia has had 6,989 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 98 deaths.
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