Josh Bell is a New York City public schools parent. He wrote this article for the New York Daily News. The article reminded me that New York City public school officials in the early 20th century conducted outdoor classes for students with tuberculosis.

He writes:

Last weekend, the city started closing down sections of dozens of busy streets for several blocks in all five boroughs so that restaurants could set up more tables outside. If the city can do this for dining, surely it can do the same for learning. Schoolyards and athletic fields, of which there are hundreds, could be repurposed as well.

It’s really not that complicated. Put up tents — the big ones used for weddings, with sides that roll down for bad weather — add desks, chairs and a whiteboard, and boom: you just made a classroom. The bonus is that air circulation would be much better than indoor classrooms, a major concern for teachers and parents alike.

For schools with already adjacent outdoor space, and there are many, a big part of the solution is already on their doorsteps. And just think of how much street space there is on one block with no parked cars: It’s thousands of square feet. The classrooms could be separated with simple dividers.

In parks and elsewhere, we had field hospitals when we thought we needed them to treat a coronavirus surge. Why not field schools?


Outdoor classrooms would be a snap in regions with mild weather. As Josh Bell points out, they would work anywhere.

The healthiest place to be is in the open air.