Parents, teachers, and students are all on-edge about what school will look like in the fall. School districts and universities across the nation are scrambling to come up with a plan for the future of their institutions, but no one really knows what the future will bring. COVID-19 will continue to be a part of our daily reality, but it is unsure how much it will continue to affect our lives and specifically in the field of education. The goal will be to educate students while also slowing the spread of Coronavirus and keeping communities healthy. But how can we make this happen?
Educators are asking these important questions:
School officials are meeting right now to determine how they will start fall classes. They are trying to meet academic needs while also keeping students and teachers safe. Decisionmakers are gathering feedback from parents, teachers, students, and communities. They are consulting the CDC’s guidelines and state and local regulations.
The Center for Disease Control has published a list of guidelines for reopening schools. It is important to note that these are guidelines NOT rules, laws, or regulations. When some parents and teachers first saw the considerations the CDC had posted, they were overwhelmed by how these would be possible to implement. However, not everything listed needs to be implemented—just considered.
Many of the CDC’s guiding principles for schools are similar to what we have been hearing for months as the nation has been opening up more and more:
Each district has to look at these guidelines and see what will work best for their individual communities. Some are more possible to implement than others, and schools will have to weigh the benefits and consequences of their decisions.
To read all of the details about the guiding principles, check out the CDC’s website.
So, what are schools considering after looking at these guidelines? There are several choices schools can make.
Some schools will open as they always have. They will roll the dice and see what happens. This is not necessarily the safest option, but it is a choice for some communities.
This is like how we picture a traditional school day (buses, full-day instruction, etc.) but with CDC considerations added to the comfort level of each school system. Students are socially distanced, masks are worn, cafeterias may be closed, etc. Students would return to school, but school would look very different.
By splitting the days in half, fewer students will be in the building at a time, which can encourage more social distancing in hallways and classrooms. Also, students can have time at home to eat and play, which might prevent the need for common areas like cafeterias and playgrounds to be used.
This is similar to the half-days because it reduces the number of students in the building at any given time. Socially distancing can be easier. This can also have a component of online schooling on the days where students are not in school.
Making these decisions cannot be easy for administrators. There are so many factors involved. There is comfort in knowing that decisions will be made with the safety of our children and communities in mind. And there is hope that someday soon, our students and teachers will return to some semblance of normalcy.