In an effort to protect against COVID-19, schools across the country have been closed this Spring, with in-class instruction replaced by remote learning. At this point you are likely gathering what you have learned from this experience and making plans to get kids back into classrooms in the fall. While there is still a lot up in the air regarding when and how that will happen, what we do know is that it won’t be business as usual - every school will need to make changes to ensure that kids, teachers, and staff are safe. School will look very different this fall: Let’s take a look at some ideas for having a safe and healthy 2020-21 school year.
First things first, it is important to make sure all schools are following their local government’s guidelines as well as those from the CDC for slowing the spread of COVID-19 in schools. You can find the CDC’s guidelines for schools here. This site is updated as the CDC makes changes, so be sure to check back periodically to stay up-to-date.
Improved Health and Hygiene Measures
Stepped-up hygiene measures are certainly in the cards for every school. How are you planning to implement good hygiene practices among your students and staff? Each school district’s policies will vary, but some of the measures being discussed are: increased hand washing, students and teachers wearing masks, routine temperature checks, frequent sanitization of all surfaces, and reducing contact between students as much as possible. Social distancing measures are a must as well (more on that below).
Smaller Class Sizes
Many school districts are planning to reduce their class sizes this fall to help maintain the recommended 6 feet of distance between students. Is this something your school is considering? If so, what will that look like for you? For the average-sized classroom, this could mean having only 10-15 students in a room at a time, and for many schools this will be a challenge. To accomplish this, some schools are considering staggering students’ schedules, using a mix of in-person and remote learning, or utilizing room dividers to separate larger spaces like cafeterias and gyms to create additional classrooms.
Staggered Schedules and Hybrid Models of Learning
To enable smaller class sizes, some districts are planning to try putting students on a staggered schedule. An example of this would be bringing half the students into the classroom for part of the week (for example, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), with the rest coming in on the remaining days (Tuesday and Thursday), then swapping days the following week. In this scenario students would utilize remote learning on the days they’re not in the classroom. This is just one example - other schools have come up with different ways of using a hybrid mix of in-class instruction and remote learning. It’s also possible that some parents will not feel comfortable sending their children to school at all this fall, even with increased safety measures. For these reasons, school districts may find it necessary to have a remote learning option available throughout the next school year. Is this something your school is planning to offer?
No Large Group Gatherings
How will your school handle events that typically require gathering larger groups of students, staff, or parents? Most districts have not made final decisions about large group gatherings yet, but it’s likely that many bigger events will be canceled or postponed this fall, including team sports, student assemblies, and other events that attract large groups - even parent/teacher conferences. Many schools are also planning to stagger recess times and have students eat lunch in their classrooms in order to reduce the number of large group situations. In addition, some districts are considering grouping high school students together by class schedule, with teachers moving between rooms instead of students in order to minimize hallway traffic.
Social Distance Measures
Social distancing will be a big part of maintaining safety for students, teachers, and staff for the 2020-21 school year. What measures is your school planning to implement to keep the needed distance between people? Some ideas schools are considering for this fall are:
- Running buses at half capacity (and making more trips)
- Instituting one-way hallways
- Adding sneeze guards in school reception and office areas
- Separating large spaces like cafeterias and gyms into smaller areas using items like portable room dividers and mobile whiteboards
However you choose to do it, your school will need some way of dividing spaces to maintain social distance and protect the health of your students and staff.
If you are in need of room dividing or health protection products for your school, Versare is here to help. Shop our online store here or give us a call at 855-330-0370.