How Schools Are Preparing to Return to Classrooms
Back-to-school will look a bit different this year with coronavirus restrictions in place. Masks, alternating schedules, extended class periods, and sanitation measures will all shape the way students, parents, and teachers experience this new norm of classroom learning. While many details remain to be solidified, here are just some of the ways in which schools are preparing to open this fall.
Optional Remote Learning
For some students, especially those with compromised immune systems, many schools are offering 100% remote learning options. These lessons may contain specialized instruction and will be available for parents who are not comfortable sending their children back to the classroom yet. Some schools are creating hybrid learning plans that blend in-person and online curriculum; some schools are starting the school year with remote learning and will transition to in-person learning if conditions are deemed safe enough. As coronavirus news continues to unfold, schools will likely include online platforms in their reopening plans.
Some school districts have stated that they may provide a split schedule in which students in one group attend select days of the week, while students in another attend the remaining days. Other school districts have decided to create student cohorts – small groups of children that interact only with each other and select faculty. This limited grouping can help mitigate the spread of coronavirus; should one student in the cohort become infected, the rest of the group will need to self-isolate for fourteen days.
Alternative Class Schedules
Traditionally, at many middle and high schools, students spend the day rotating through a host of six to eight classes. Now, many schools are considering a four-by-four schedule, where students take four classes each term and have extended class periods. Staggered arrival and dismissal times may also accompany these alternative schedules to facilitate social distancing.
Most schools acknowledge the importance of wearing masks to mitigate the spread, and remain hopeful that this small inconvenience will continue to allow schools to operate. Many school districts will require masks for all students who return to in-classroom learning, on buses, and at sporting events. Social distancing will also be recommended, and schools are aiming to adhere to the six-foot rule to the best of their ability without minimizing class size.
Many schools have created multi-phase opening procedures. This staged approach gives students, faculty, and staff stricter rules in the beginning of the school year with plans to loosen restrictions if and when they can. The benefit of these tiered approaches can help schools remain dynamic in the wake of ever-changing news. Many schools also have a variety of contingency plans in place in the event that school building closures become necessary again.
With so much uncertainty around coronavirus guidelines and community spread, schools are hesitant to put definitive opening plans in place. However, they acknowledge that opening with stringent health and safety requirements is a preferable alternative to remaining closed.
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