Kids in China head back to school wearing social-distancing hats

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They could be starting a new trend. 

Reuters video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

Schoolchildren in eastern China won’t have to wonder how far to stand from their peers now that they’re back in class. Their wide, winged hats will do the social distancing for them.

As life slowly returns to some semblance of normalcy in parts of China, Yangzheng Elementary School in Hangzhou had students design hats that measure 1 meter (3.2 feet) across as a lesson in coronavirus safety practices. The hats all have two wing-like flaps, though kids added their own creative flourishes. 

Some made their long flaps out of colorful cardboard tubes, others out of balloons. Some crafty kids decorated their flaps with birds, leaves and rainbows. One added a crown atop the cap covering his head, while another added googly eyes to his bright red creation. 

“We’re advocating students to wear a one-meter hat and maintain one meter’s distance,” the Zhejiang Daily newspaper quoted Hong Feng, the school’s principal, as saying as the kids returned to school this week for the first time in several months. 

Along with teaching the students about social distancing, the headgear is giving the kids a history lesson, as the hats resemble those worn during the Song Dynasty, which ruled China between 960 and 1279. 

“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,” Eileen Chengyin Chow, a Duke University professor of Asian and Middle Eastern studies, explained on Twitter. 

The hats were originally made of bamboo and metal, not nearly as adorable as the ones that popped up this week. 

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