As a society we have been through so many changes in almost all of our systems due to COVID-19. One of the most significant transitions has been in education. At a national level schools have had to convert to online education very suddenly. It has been a significant paradigm shift for administrators, teachers and students. Many students struggled with this change and others coped well. Regardless it has changed the landscape of education forever.
However, our schools are now being asked to prepare to reopen this coming September. For the schools who have students for the summer like we do at Lakeside, we are already facing the challenges of trying to keep staff and students safe while conducting education.
The tasks of education have many challenges in teaching, learning and finding ways to succeed. However now teachers are not only needing to prepare classes but also to provide their classes in a “socially distanced” way. Students are having to think differently, work differently and have had to deal with the physical protection aspects of COVID-19 precautions.
The general guidelines by the CDC for health and safety are at best vague for schools. I believe there is a healthy respect for each school in each context. Yet the need to socially distance, eliminate any large group congregating and becoming aware of a whole new set of guidelines for quarantine and testing makes the reopening process very tricky.
For instance, how do we transport students in a social distancing manner? How do we handle cafeteria gatherings for lunch? What do we do if students do not socially distance? How will we deal with the problems associated with being exposed to the virus and the requirement to quarantine for 14 days? How do we keep students from hugging each other? How do we arrange our classrooms? How do we keep our facilities and vehicles sanitized all throughout the day? The list goes on!
For parents this is also a scary time. On the one hand there is a need to normalize life but on the other hand how risky is it to send your child to a school with hundreds of other children? How also are parents going to deal with the anxiety of our children with all that is going on for them? It feels very vulnerable and somewhat overwhelming with a sense that any decision has pros and cons to it.
This will be a summer of evaluation, planning and working through many details. We need to create environments that are safe for our children while providing them with a quality education. It is not an easy task with what feels like many double-binds.
This is a time where parents need to ask good questions about the precautions that their schools are taking to protect students. It is also a time for schools to make plans, stay flexible and do the best they can to make school a stable and secure environment for learning. We all have our work cut out for us as we head towards a September reopening. We will definitely need to be working together as families and school staff in order to reenter school effectively this coming fall.