Schools in China are struggling to adjust to the increasing amounts of toxic air blanketing cities across the rapidly industrializing country. While children in other parts of the world enjoy snow days, China's severe levels of air pollution bring bad air days, when local governments cancel classes to keep children indoors.
Now a Beijing school has resorted to a temporary solution to avoid missing days because of pollution -- offering classes online. According to the Shanghaiist news blog, a school in the capital has begun using online tools to teach classes to students who stay home on particularly smoggy days.
At the Beijing Jingshan School, students and their teacher log in to video chat rooms for their daily classes instead of coming into school during hazardous air days.
The Chinese government recommends that children and the elderly stay inside and avoid any outdoor activities on days with “severe” pollution readings. In October, the northeastern city of Harbin was hit with "airpocalypse"; for several days the city was paralyzed as roads and airports were shut down and classes canceled.
While the Beijing school seems to be at the forefront of integrating online classes to prevent missed school days, other schools in pollution-stricken areas have begun to follow suit.
Students in the eastern city of Hangzhou have moved their schools' morning flag-raising ritual indoors -- since repeated days of heavy smog prevented them from doing so outside. In a classroom equipped with a large-screen TV displaying the Communist Chinese flag, students stood and saluted the digital flag before beginning their day.