Will It Happen?
This Ain't Sesame Street
Life as we know it has changed forever, and there is no denying that it took an aggressive virus called COVID 19 to force us into our homes for months. Everyone has experienced some change in their life because of COVID 19. Whether you were part of the stay at home order or an essential worker, the effects are lasting. This ain't Sesame Street some may say. A lot of folks grew up with Sesame Street and even remember watching it in school before going to lunch every day. There are people that would say the best things they learned while a kid came from Sesame Street. Sesame Street didn't teach us to socially distance, though.
No one can deny the importance of following the orders of the health departments in each county. If you live in Ohio, you have probably watched Governor DeWine at 2:00 PM E/T talk about the virus along with Dr. Amy Acton. The two have become such a staple in people's lives that someone created a parody.
All kinds of ideas are being kicked around for the start of school in August of 2020:
- Schools start back in the fall with a blended model.
- Schools start back in the fall. However, students are divided by how many can be in the buildings at a time.
- Elementary students start back to school while spreading throughout all the district buildings, including middle school buildings and high school. Middle school and high school students will learn from home.
- Schools do a virtual model with no students in the buildings.
- The school employees work from the school buildings and all the kids work from home.
- Working teacher based teams virtually co-plan together and possibly co-teach virtually together.
Do school leaders honestly believe it is safe to reopen schools this fall without having all the students immunized? It appears most districts at this time are planning to bring students back to the buildings. While bringing students back to the physical, educational settings, precautions have to happen to limit the transmission of the virus.
- Physical distancing
- Staggered schedules -Do to the design of schools and not enough room for social distancing.
- Half-day or alternate day
- Frequent sanitation of buildings.
- Hand washing
- Temperature taking
- Closing gyms and cafeterias
- Students eating at their desks
- Cannot have crowded hallways
- Teachers change classes, and students stay in their room to avoid hallway type contact.
- Everyone wears a mask - hard for those with loss of hearing to watch lips.
- Screening by thermal cameras
- Temperature scans
- What if a student becomes sick with the virus at school?
- How do we protect the most vulnerable?
- What will absenteeism look like?
- How will students be placed on busses?
- Just walking onto the bus there cannot be 6 feet between the driver and student.
Do we know for certain social distancing is needed if all the other considerations occurred? When thinking about the most costly option during this virus fight, we think of what? Most would agree it's social distancing. The social distancing will force the schools not to have all the students in the buildings at the same time. What if we do all the other expectations 100 percent, would we still have to socially distance?
Be sure to check out the Ohio Parent Teacher Association survey on schools reopening at this link. They surveyed over 10,000 parents. Sixty percent of parents said they would send their kids back to school in the fall. Parents know how important schools are to our society, health, and children's learning.
From a third grade teacher of 28 years:
The million-dollar question becomes: can schools safely reopen while protecting the health of students and adults? Is it even affordable? Kids cannot mix in large groups. Has anyone ever seen a large group of kids that don't mix? Bet parents are not allowed in the schools. There are a lot of concerns to go around. Lets bullet point just a few:
- Teacher retention
- Student nutrition
- Mental illness
- Students falling behind
Some believe no-matter how the districts operate, there will be online learning. Whether it's staggering schedules or schools having to close again because of another virus outbreak, online learning is here. Now is the time for districts to focus on training for their staff. Teachers need to learn best practices for online teaching and learning. The communities need to take this time to ramp up their equipment for students and be able to ensure connectivity. Maybe it's time to stop trying to get back to the way it was and improve the way it will be in the future.
Let's take the time this summer while our kids are on summer break and invest in not only teacher training but all school personnel training. Every staff member hired by a school should meet the new challenges of educating our kids. Does the district have a learning management platform? Everyone was kind and patient from March through the end of the school year, however, this grace period may not extend into the beginning of the school year 2020-21.
The Ohio UDL Collaborative Members
A Blueprint for Back to School - Released May 12, 2020, by (AEI) American Enterprise Institute
Reset & Restart-Education Planning Guide for Ohio Schools and Districts
School Leaders Debate Solutions For an Uncertain 2020-21
What It Might Look Like to Safely Reopen Schools - MindShift
Shifting Strategies to Fit an Online World - If this, Then That - Translating Strategies
Ohio Parent Teacher Association survey on schools re-opening plans draws ‘huge’ interest
For Schools, the List of Obstacles Grows and Grows