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Songbirds Replace School Bells As Classrooms Move Outdoors For A Fortunate Few

As elected officials, teachers, and parents grapple with how to educate children in the middle of a pandemic, some schools are turning to the great outdoors: pitching tents, buying rain boots, and roughing it with their students in the elements. The catalyst for the move is that the risk of coronavirus transmission is much lower outside, though students at Hartsbrook  School, a K-12 private school in Western Massachusetts, and other outdoor schools, still wear masks and stay socially distant.

But a growing body of evidence suggests that outdoor learning also has myriad educational and mental health benefits, from boosting academic performance to reducing stress in kids. What was once a fringe education movement suddenly seems not just plausible, but increasingly desirable. At the same time, most large city schools — with many students and limited campus space to spread out — haven’t been able to pivot quickly to outdoor learning, leaving poorer kids online while wealthier kids roam the woods.

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