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First-Graders Are Back in School In China, Wearing Social Distancing Headgear

Teachers got creative to ensure kids stay safe.

A child wears a protective mask as she runs at Ditan Park on March 29, 2020 in Beijing, China. GETTY

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. 

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.


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!