The case for doing everything outside

First, people going to the beach, pool, or park aren’t being reckless if they’re maintaining distance from others and practicing proper hygiene. And second, if we want to safely move toward normalcy before there’s a vaccine, reliable treatments, or widespread natural immunity, we should move life outside as often as we can.

This isn’t the wild idea it may seem. In Scotland, an outdoor learning model is being considered as an option for safely reopening schools this fall. “There are a growing number of fully and partially outdoor childcare settings in Scotland,” Scottish Children’s Minister Maree Todd said to The Guardian. “This model could have many benefits for maintaining physical distancing and minimizing risk of transmission as part of the transition from lockdown back into early learning and childcare and school.” Scotland’s “forest schools” offer unique benefits for a few students already. Even very small children learn to happily spend all day outside in the rain (a lot of rain — it’s Scotland) and the sun alike.

Taking education outside obviously has its obstacles. Weather is a real consideration, particularly for older students whose coursework can’t center on wandering through the woods. Computer labs can’t move outdoors; bathroom logistics must be settled; and school-provided lunches probably require a cafeteria kitchen.