In Hangzhou, China, kids are finally headed back to school after the months-long outbreak of Coronavirus that devastated the Wuhan region and affected other regions across the country. As life returns back to normal in China, workers head back to their offices and places of employment and kids head back to their own day-job — school. Teachers at Yangzheng Elementary School in Hangzhou came up with an ingenious way to make kids socially distance while in the classroom (as much as possible, anyway) while also blending the hack with a history lesson.
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The school created a sort of ‘protective headgear.’ The hats have long, 3-foot roads along the top that are held horizontally made of balloons, cardboard, or foam, attached to the top of the hat. These hats, according to Duke University professor Eileen Chengyin Chow, actually have a historical precedent.
First graders back to school in Hangzhou, with social distancing headgear
The long horizontal plumes on Song Dynasty toppers were supposedly to prevent officials from conspiring sotto voce with one another while at court—so social distancing was in fact their original function! pic.twitter.com/0AOKsWE1xH
— eileen chengyin chow (@chowleen) April 27, 2020
The real version of the hats — most likely made out of high quality fabric, not balloon animals — were used in the Song Dynasty. These ‘toppers,’ per Chow, were used to prevent court officials and politicians from ‘conspiring sotto voce’ while together at court. Sotto voce, for the uninitiated, means to ‘speak quietly.’ So, in other words, government officials were unable to conspire with one another for whatever reason. “Social distancing was in fact their original function,” Chow tweeted.
The teachers at Yangzheng Elementary have delivered double for their kids: they’ve found a fun, funny and clever way to keep their children safe — while also folding in a history lesson about the old history of the Song Dynasty. So cute!