'I cannot wait!': Outdoor schools prove a hit in Latvia

Valmiera (Latvia) (AFP) –


In areas with lower infection rates, the Baltic state of Latvia is allowing schools to hold open-air classes and the initiative is proving so popular that some hope it is here to stay.

At a class in the outskirts of Valmiera in northern Latvia this week, a group of 30 children aged 10 and 11 could be seen having a theatre lesson in between blossoming bushes and molehills.

It was followed by a class combining sports and maths in which the children ran along a track and then learnt how to calculate their average speeds.

"Outdoor classes have proven more productive than we thought before. I'm thinking of keeping them on my schedule even after the pandemic," Andriga Lozda, the theatre teacher, told AFP.

The government is encouraging schools that are allowed to do so to hold all kinds of classes outside, presenting it as a way of combating the stresses from months of remote learning.

"Remote schooling during the pandemic has really exhausted everybody: teachers, children and their parents," said Agija Karklina, another teacher.

"I've been working 14 hours a day since September and feel burned out," she said.

Outdoor lessons are permitted in municipalities where the average coronavirus infection rate is under 250 cases per 100,000 people.

Valmiera's rate this week reached 278, which means that from next week only distance learning will be allowed until the rate drops again.

Around half of the municipalities in Latvia, including the capital Riga, Daugavpils and other big cities, are only allowed remote learning.

"My kids will get to have outdoor lessons next Wednesday for the first time in 2021," said Liega Bome, an IT worker and member of symphonic metal band Oceanpath.

"I cannot even say in polite words how much I cannot wait for the moment!"