Citymapper has a mobility index which gives a graphical illustration of how locked down cities are over time. The data comes from public transport trips planned in the Citymapper app. According to this index, the two cities moving more than any other are Seoul and Hong Kong but both are still way down than is typical. Seoul is currently at 51% and Hong Kong at 55%. This is important because I still hear people say South Korea isn’t in lockdown but they are, albeit not as strictly as many countries in Europe right now.
I do think South Korea has the best strategy so far but we need to acknowledge what they’re doing because it’s a lot more than just wearing a face mask. Schools and universities have been closed since early March with no plans to reopen. Bars and night clubs have been closed in Seoul since early April. Temperature checks are done everywhere and the government has access to CCTV footage, credit card information, and phone geolocation data for tracking and tracing. There are also fines and jail terms for people caught flouting quarantine. People latch onto the thing they think will be easy for them – like wearing a face mask – and conveniently forget about everything else.
Sweden is another country people like to talk about as not being in lockdown but their mobility index is only 33% which is a lot lower than usual.
Berlin is at 18% and London is at 9%.
The city with the lowest index is Monaco at just 3%.
We’re nearly at the end of our second week of online school and it’s terrific. The kids are enjoying it, more so even than their old schools. They each have a timetable for when lessons will be and it’s up to them to log into Zoom and attend class. They’re both really good at doing it when required which means Ben and I can focus on our work and not have to worry about them. They only have to attend “school” when they have a class. They’re often given tasks for independent learning which they complete after class and hand in through the online system. There’s also a weekly assembly, afterschool clubs, and a fortnightly house meeting.
I’ve tried to get information out of the kids about what happens during their classes but it’s like sucking an orange through a straw. Elizabeth is not yet a teenager and a bit more communicative but Daniel has entered the grunting stage. I managed to get some information from Elizabeth about a science class she had where the teacher used the whiteboard feature in Zoom. This puts up a big white screen – a whiteboard – which the teacher or the students can write and draw on. Zoom also has breakout rooms which allow the teacher to put the students into groups where they can work together on a group task. In the school assembly, they had an online quiz using Kahoot and the kids both really enjoyed it. There’s also a common room for each year group where the students can have discussions.
Both our kids have their own computers. Indeed, a computer each is essential for online school. But it needn’t cost a fortune. Elizabeth’s computer is ten years old now. It’s an old one of mine and still works perfectly well. Daniel’s computer is a second-hand one we bought from a university student of Ben’s who was leaving Aberdeen. We don’t own a car. Some people have cars. We have computers. At times during the day now, I’ll be in a Zoom with work colleagues, Ben will be in a Zoom with his work colleagues, and both Elizabeth and Daniel will be in their own Zooms for school.
We always know when the kids are in class because they go quiet. They wear headsets so we don’t hear what the teachers are saying and they tend not to talk but instead type or write. For the times when they’re not in a class, they’re doing homework, playing games, jumping on the trampoline, or chatting to friends online. We also continue to do PE with Joe every day. Elizabeth says she’s talking more to her friends now than before lockdown. They are the first generation to have never known life without tablets, smartphones, and wifi and they have embraced the technology and adapted to the new situation much better than many adults.