Schools are strangely weather dependent. Whilst we have buildings that are warm in the winter and cool in the summer the weather plays a significant part in school life. Any teacher will tell you that pupils behave in a different way when it is a windy day. Rain changes things significantly if only on a practical front. Everyone knows that a snow day is something different again. We’ve been most fortunate to have a wonderful run of sunny weather during September, but the last few days have ushered in not only an autumnal chill but “proper” rain. Perhaps as a British School this is our natural meteorological state, but I have to admit it has come as something of a shock.
A rainy day should not stop the normal functioning of a school, but it does lead to differences in the school day. We have designated areas for the pupils to go to, outdoor lessons are subject to rapid adaptation and certainly on the Senior School site there are faster transitions between buildings. This year will be different as a consequence of COVID. I think that this year we will have our windows open for a little longer in the year than normal and we will be ventilating our classrooms a little more actively. This week the German Premier was reported to be an enthusiastic proponent of Lüften or house airing. The same is true for schools; good ventilation has to be one of the most important ways that we can protect ourselves against the virus. This may be the sort of activity that Mrs. Merkel described as impact ventilation or Stosslüften. Her third and final suggestion Querlüften or cross ventilation may very well mean that we need to invest in paperweights for classrooms! We can open windows and we can use ventilation systems to bring the fresh air in, the means seem immaterial, the action is everything.
Similarly, time spent outdoors has to be a good thing. I am fortunate to be able to hear the sounds of break and lunchtime from my study and in the last few weeks it has been a great joy to hear voices where during lockdown there were none. We will still be asking pupils to spend their break and lesson times out of doors believing that this is an essential element of a safer school day. As the weather gets chillier, we will have fewer outdoor classes, but our rooms may well be colder with the windows open or the ventilation systems turned on. At the risk of sounding like a throwback from the 1940s it may well be time for people to ensure that they have appropriate vests to wear under their uniform. I picked up another word over the course of this week Friluftsliv apparently coined by the Norwegian playwright Ibsen. It is the idea that time spent out of doors in fresh air is essential for well-being even if it means adopting a positive winter mindset and a pair of long-johns. I think that we could learn a thing or two from this approach. The Norwegians are also great fans of the idea that there is no such thing as bad weather simply inappropriate clothing (apparently it rhymes in Norwegian) so I’d encourage everyone to make sure that they have appropriate wet weather clothing now and warm clothing for when winter bites.
To coin a phrase from somewhere else, winter is coming. We need to be ready to make the most of it, it is an opportunity not to be missed.