Classrooms Without Walls

Mia Couture, Reporter


To ask a question, first graders sit crisscross applesauce on tree stumps, hands sky-high. Third graders closely peer at the plants that grow in class gardens, or spread out to read in a sunflower-filled room. Students take cover under sunglasses made from boat sails as the sun beats down. 

That’s what a school day in one group on Cape Cod is like this year, where every student is now spending at least part of the day studying outside, when the rain stops.

Searching for ways to teach safely during the pandemic, schools across the United States have adopted the concept of open-air classes, as Americans did a century ago during epidemic outbreaks. 

In an outdoor education movement, influenced in part by Scandinavian “forest schools” where children bundle up against cold temperatures for long romps in the snow, attempts to throw tents over playgrounds and arrange desks in parks and parking lots have brought new life.