COVID-19 and the Classroom

While it feels like forever, the COVID-19 pandemic started to affect the education of all students in March of 2020. Spring Breaks were first “extended”, then extended again for a few weeks finally with many schools in late April deciding that the rest of the school year would be remote.

Educators and students adjusted quickly to an online format, mainly just trying to ‘complete’ the school year amid the changing healthcare crisis.

During the summer of 2020, many states considered a “Phase 4” allowing a return to classroom instruction. However, on July 11, 2020, the CDC reported that the United States had 62,918 new reported cases COVID-19. What should you be considering with COVID-19 and the classroom this fall?

Depending on which state you call home, the prevalence of COVID-19 can vary. It has been steadily impacting the United States this summer and shows no signs of slowing down, so chances are your state is seeing increased positive cases.

 

Guidelines for classroom return vary by state, and the latest CDC guidelines are written to help supplement, not replace, local state laws rules & regulations. Review more here on the CDC website regarding school considerations for this upcoming year.

Almost all states are encouraging to maintain social distancing, wearing masks while indoors and when outdoors and unable to maintain distance. Temperature checks, frequent hand washing and frequent disinfecting procedures should also be in place.

Classroom Options

Most school districts this week across the nation have started to announce the plans to resume classroom instruction for the Fall of 2020.

Pre-Social Distancing Desk Spacing

The first step is to determine what options are your district offering for classroom instruction? The three most common options can include:

  • 100% virtual learning
  • hybrid instruction; 1/2 in-person partial days during the week, 1/2 virtual
  • complete in-person classroom instruction with social distancing precautions in place.

Since most schools will give you a choice on how your student will attend classes, you will need to determine what is best for your student.

Questions to ask yourself

The next step is to ask yourself the following questions regarding each of your students, taking into account their age, grade, school setting and layout.

  • Can they properly put on and/off a mask (don’t forget to avoid touching the inside!
  • Wearing a mask for hours at a time (practice!)
  • Washing hands (20 seconds)
  • Avoiding touching face/eyes 
  • Able to reposition mask by grabbing outside layer or by ear loops (wash/gel hands before touching!)
  • Use hand gel correctly

Even after those questions are answered, the next step is to review each school (or district) overall plan for the year, and are your kids ready for this?

Take into consideration that the concerns on sending a 2nd grader, a 7th grader and an 11th grader back to the classroom are very different. Keep this in mind when asking yourself these questions:

  • Are your students up for wearing a mask, adhering to social distancing, and maintaining strict handwashing procedures, possible for 7 hours a day five days a week? 
  • Do you feel it is safe to do so given local current Covid-19 spread?
  • What restrictions are in place for the schools? Gym? Outdoor time? Movement within the classroom? Lunchtime? 
  • Disinfecting policy planned for during school as well as each evening?
  • What is the plan if schools have to shut down for outbreaks?
  • What is the definition of an outbreak at your school?
  • Transportation concerns? Bus routes? 
  • How is this going to impact them directly (increased anxiety? not take it seriously? needing time with friends?)
  • Are you comfortable with the risks involved of transmission risk between students, teachers, and staff?

Questions to ask your students

While input and feedback is important, ultimately the final decision is in the hands of the parents and guardians of the students. Their input can be valuable (and maybe even surprising) in how they view the upcoming school year.

  • Are they comfortable wearing a mask throughout the day?
  • Do the understand the risks of catching the virus and how to prevent spread?
  • Would they be ok with a virtual learning environment?
  • Do they understand that “school” will not look like it did last year prior to the shutdown? This can include limited classroom movement, stationary classrooms (in schools that rotated rooms), and different gym/recess procedures.

All in this together

Remember, with all the stress and frustrations that you might be feeling, every parent across the country is facing the same concerns.

Most importantly, keep in mind that there is always a risk that the plan will have to change. Students returning the classroom may have to return to virtual learning if the number of COVID-19 cases in your area increases, or an outbreak occurs at your school. Planning ahead can help ease some anxiety about the year ahead.

While there are no easy answers, and each family can have additional concerns, we do have each other.

Find local support groups (online!) to brainstorm plans and help think of creative solutions. Take the time now to speak with your support group of family, neighbors, friends, and devise a plan.

In the end, this will be a learning experience for all of us. The best lesson we can teach our kids is how we all worked together to help solve our problems.

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26 thoughts on “COVID-19 and the Classroom

  • July 13, 2020 at 11:24 am
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    Going back to a packed public place amidst what’s still going on is still terrifying, so any bit of precaution helps! Thanks for this post!

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  • July 13, 2020 at 12:58 pm
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    Good read. The future of schooling is crazy, definitely wish the best for everyone involved

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    • July 20, 2020 at 3:36 pm
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      It’s a tough time for kids and school. My grandkids really want to return to the classroom. They miss school and their friends. Not sure what will happen yet in Missouri.

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  • July 13, 2020 at 1:25 pm
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    Thanks for your post. My daughter is a teacher and I know that they are struggling with how to do this safely for so many reasons. Not just the infectious component but also the social and safety needs to students (home environment and all). This has had so many ripple effects that I am not sure we had time to really consider and put an effective plan in place. So good to look at the options and actually, you pictures were a good visualization as well. Thanks!

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  • July 13, 2020 at 2:04 pm
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    In Ontario we still don’t know what school is going to look like in the fall. Luckily school doesn’t start for most students until September 8th so a few more weeks after schools in the US. If most parents have to go back to work full time then I have no idea how virtual learning or 1/2 days is going to work for them. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

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  • July 13, 2020 at 2:29 pm
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    Nice Post! These are great questions that all parents will need to ask themselves and their children. My son is going to high school this school year and I am concerned about him returning to the classroom and not that I don’t think he will be responsible enough its other students and staff that I am worried about that may not be taking things as serious as they should. Either way we all will have to make that tough decision sooner than later. Thanks for providing your insight.

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  • July 13, 2020 at 3:08 pm
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    I don’t envy schools or teachers this coming year. It is a debacle for everyone, and I know many parents are scrambling to find the right answers for their family. Thank you for giving people practical, solid advice on this dilemma.

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  • July 13, 2020 at 4:32 pm
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    I am struggling with this, living in Arizona we are on our second upswing, and with many children being infected including infants, I’m not comfortable with this, but my special needs grandson needs to get back to a routine, and online is not good. I am keeping my fingers crossed that we as a family, make the right decisions. He lives with me and I am his primary caregiver… So a lot of decisions are in my lap!

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  • July 13, 2020 at 4:40 pm
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    What a great guide. I’m sure this will be so helpful for all the parents and teachers trying to figure this out!

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  • July 13, 2020 at 7:12 pm
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    Very nicely written. We are in this together and we have to do what is best for the teachers and the kids. I pray this all ends soon.

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  • July 13, 2020 at 7:53 pm
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    It is definitely a stressful time for teachers, parents and administrators. I am definitely curious how this will all work if a teacher tests positive. Who goes into quarantine? Everyone who was on the playground with them?

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  • July 13, 2020 at 9:02 pm
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    This is such a scary time for parents. I am so happy that my boys are all grown. I can’t even imagine having to deal with sending them to school under our current circumstances.

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  • July 13, 2020 at 9:12 pm
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    I’m a teacher, and I am really nervous about the reopening of school. Quite honestly, I don’t understand how we’re even entertaining this. Because schools were shut down first in most places, we have no real idea of how it is transmitted in children. There are just too many factors to make this safe right now.

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  • July 13, 2020 at 10:35 pm
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    I am interested to know what our school district decides to do. I am just waiting to hear.

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  • July 13, 2020 at 11:16 pm
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    I have no desire to send me older son off to school in the fall! My younger one is in daycare and I don’t want to send him there either! I just don’t know how that will work with me needing to work. its just not practical or realistic to expect kids to abide by all the guidelines.

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  • July 14, 2020 at 2:48 am
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    I’m in Ontario, so schools won’t be back in session until September. But I am worried about what it will look like. Right now, the schools are debating three options, ranging from full attendance to splitting classes, to fully online learning. None of the scenarios are easy. As a working parent, I struggle between trying to find the time (and sitters) to help two kids with e-learning, or sending them to school and fearing for their health.

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  • July 14, 2020 at 3:20 am
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    Such a distinctly odd time for the classrooms! I think most people are at a loss for what the “right” thing to do is at this point! My son is going to be a senior. Tough time for all!

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  • July 14, 2020 at 5:39 am
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    All of this is so so true. Our district hasn’t come out with the official ruling yet, but the neighboring districts are thinking about a hybrid model. There’s so much anxiety and stress as a parent. And if I let my kids know about it all, they’d be so stressed, too. And my husband is an assistant principal, so we feel the anxiety on behalf of staff as well. It’s hard for everyone all around. Thanks for all the reminders of what to keep in mind when school starts.

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  • July 15, 2020 at 3:53 am
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    I am so glad that we have already been homeschooling. I would hate to be in this situation right now of not knowing what the school year is going to look like, and whether or not I’d be comfortable sending my kids back to school.

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  • July 15, 2020 at 9:27 pm
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    Lots of good information here, as usual, thanks.

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  • July 16, 2020 at 6:06 pm
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    I read your post before filling out the survey for teachers that I just got from my district. It helped me think of some topics I may have forgotten, such as cafeteria spaces and the playground. I hope my district makes good choices, since I work in 3 buildings. That’s 1,000 kids a week I will be exposed to!! Thanks for the article 🙂

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    • July 17, 2020 at 1:26 pm
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      Stay safe! I wish there were easier answers to all of this – trying to make the best of it!

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  • July 17, 2020 at 7:31 pm
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    I’m glad I don’t have any kids and that I am done with school so I don’t have to worry about it. I know my mom is sending my nephew to school because she has to work and there’s not much of an outbreak where she is, but my sister isn’t sending her 4 year old to preschool since she is able to stay home with her and home school her.

    Reply
  • July 30, 2020 at 10:38 am
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    I can’t imagine wearing a mask throughout the whole day. This is a real challenge.

    Reply

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