One question that is stirring a lot of talks right now is whether schools should reopen. President Trump has a firm opinion on this subject by campaigning for school reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, are parents, teachers, and children ready to go back to school?
The truth of the matter is that no one is entirely sure about what should happen next. Parents are in a weird situation where they are desperate to get the kids out of the house, but at the same time, they want to keep their kids healthy. Teachers, on the other hand, are worried about the safety of confined classroom and children.
Is it safe for kids to go back to school?
The whole remote learning thing is not a suitable solution. So many children do not have access to this resource. Only a small percentage of kids are truly benefiting from the remote learning program, which is not fair. Although the stimulus check by the government is well appreciated, it should be noted that more money goes straight to basic supplies and not remote learning material.
It’s rather sad when you think about millions of kids without access to these programs. Understand that education falls under basic human needs, and no kid should get deprived of that opportunity.
Secondly, kids are going to be the biggest losers if something is not done soon. Children are losing a lot of time that they may never get back if schools don’t reopen. If something is not done, then they may lose a lot.
It is not just about education, but social development as well. Understand that kids learn by interacting with each other through programs such as sports. Currently, most kids are stuck at home with only family, which does not help with their social connection.
However, we also need to take a moment to look at the risk involved. Corona virus came without warning, and we were not prepared. The system wasn’t prepared, and it took us all by surprise, which means that the effects will probably last our entire lives.
Quite frankly, achieving the set COVID-19 prevention measures in the education system is quite tricky. Think about it; achieving social distancing might be a considerable challenge, especially considering kids love to play. Then you need to ensure that all the kids understand the importance of hand-washing and sanitizing frequently.
Although kids need to get back to learning as they did before, you need to consider the preparedness of the schools. It is not about the entire education system, but your local schools. Which measures are they planning to put in place? How prepared are they in case of an emergency? How will they achieve social distancing?
As a parent, it is only safe for your child to go back if all the stipulated measures by WHO are put in place. What can different learning institutions do to make the environment suitable for kids becomes the next big question?
What schools have to do?
Some of the measures that different learning institutions need to take include the following:
The aim is to ensure that kids stay at a distance of at least six feet apart while in the classrooms and hallways. Achieving this can be somewhat tricky, especially for public institutions with numerous kids. However, understand that a 3 feet distance might also work if the children do not have symptoms and wear face-masks at all times.
The teachers, on the other hand, need to endure that they limit in-person meetings and wear face-masks at all times. All the staff in these learning institutions are at a higher risk of getting the corona virus since they interact with both children and other staff members.
In cases where schools have many students, then they should consider learning in shifts. You get to have two or more different groups that are taught at different times. Although this may mean a lot more work, it is worth it.
Finally, institutions with a lot of outdoor space should consider using them for meals and instructional. Children should have proper space when performing activities such as exercising, singing, and eating.
We all know that frequent hand-washing with water and soap is paramount during this pandemic. All the kids have to be sensitized about hand hygiene to ensure that they keep everyone safe. Achieving this is rather challenging, especially for the young kids who aren’t entirely sure about what is going on.
All the learning institutions should also set up hand washing points. Having designated hand-washing areas serves as a reminder to the kids that they need to wash their hands. Incorporating the use of sanitizers in classes should also help with hand hygiene in the classrooms.
Honestly, it is not possible to have all students and teachers tested before learning can resume. What needs to happen is that temperature checks have to be established at these institutions. All staff and kids need to be tested when entering and leaving the premises.
There should also be a constant reminder to staff and students that anyone with symptoms should stay at home. It should be made clear that anyone with a fever shouldn’t report to school under any circumstances.
Disinfecting and cleaning
The CDC has put together a written guideline on how cleaning and disinfecting needs to be done. All common areas and classrooms have to be properly sanitized and disinfected. The administration must ensure that they meet the set guidelines before thinking about reopening.
What parents need to do?
As a parent, the safety of your child is the most important consideration during these difficult times. It is quite understandable to feel confused since you want your child both safe and learning at the same time.
Let’s first acknowledge that our children have been hugely affected by COVID-19. The first step that all guardians have to take is offering support to their kids before they get back to the classrooms. At this time, children have a mixed feeling about getting back to their learning institutions. This is because they are worried about their safety and excited about resuming learning at the same time.
If learning resumes, then there are going to be several new changes in the institutions. You have to start preparing your child for these changes. Children will find themselves in smaller classes, with different instructors, and not being able to sit next to their friends.
The standard play areas might also be off-limits, making everything quite confusing. Keeping social distance is also going to be a massive problem for younger kids.
What you have to do as a parent is to prepare your child for all these changes. Sit your kids down and talk to them about the changes that they can expect. Make sure that they understand why all these measures have been put in place.
Take your time and explain everything that is happening around them. Ensure that you answer all their questions openly and honestly. Doing this will ensure that you help your children cope with the ‘new normal.’
You also have to start going back to the previous routine that you might have abandoned. Most guardians have let their children adopt a looser routine during this period. Bedtime hours have been pushed further, eating patterns have changed, and there is no longer any urgency in the home.
The relaxed approach has been a good thing during this time, but you need to start easing into the strict routine. Re-adjust slowly and gradually until you get back to the consistent routine that you had in the past.
Finally, please encourage your children to talk about what they are going through at the moment. If you are wondering why your child isn’t opening up, then you are probably not asking the right questions. Ask simple questions such as which friends they are eager to see, and the activities they miss the most.
There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic may be around for longer than we anticipated. The vaccine might not arrive as soon as we expected. It is, therefore, vital that we find a way to move on with life. Reopening our education system is an excellent place to start considering that children are the future of our nation.
With this being said, it is vital that the kids only get back to school when the necessary measures have been put in place. As much as we need the kids learning, we shouldn’t risk their health in the process. No one wants to witness the death of their child.
Teachers are the key to ensuring that we have a safe learning environment during this period. Why does it come down to the instructors in learning institutions? Well, it’s rather simple they get to monitor both the students and measures put in place.