As we look forward to the decline of the spread of coronavirus, schools across the US are planning to reopen in the near future. But amid this pandemic, how do we protect our kids and ensure they are not exposed to the deadly disease? Already, there is a concern among the parents and educators about the need to let things get back to normalcy. But obviously, this reopening can only happen after we have put all the necessary measures in place.
Some of the growing concerns are around the logistic implication, education impact and health issues. The impacts of reopening schools do not only matter to the pupils but also the teachers and their families stand at risk. Since the lockdown in March, many schools across America had resorted to a virtual learning environment for students in elementary and middle schools. It can be expected that certain precautions will be sacrosanct if the plan goes through for the schools.
In the least, all pupils will be advised to wear masks at all times. This will require the mass distribution and use of kids face masks. And as we have seen in some other countries that have implemented the reopening of schools, other physical changes must follow. For instance, classrooms will have to be restructured in a way that minimizes physical touch and interaction among pupils. This case was implemented in Denmark and regarded as zoning. Also, the pupils will be zoned in their playground and will not eat all at the same time.
According to the second-largest teacher’s union in the US, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), there is a clear blueprint if schools will reopen;
1. Keep up with social distancing until the number of new cases begins to decline and do so continuously for a minimum of 14 consecutive days. Even then, we now rank the communities accordingly and begin to reopen from one community to the other.
2. Testing, tracking and isolation facilities must be in place for any discovered new cases. That is, the nation must increase its capacity to test, trace and isolate new cases more precisely, rather than a community-based approach. Again, consider the fact that reopening of schools gives the people a bit more liberty to move around.3. Set up public health tools that can prevent the spread of the coronavirus. At the same time, these tools must align with the educational strategies of the state and
nation in meeting pupils’ needs.
4. Engage all stakeholder including parents, guardians, teachers, workers, unions, and communities in the plan to reopen. The essence of this is that there might be unique challenges in some communities that may not be common to all concerning the COVID19 virus. Not only must these stakeholders be engaged, but they must also be rightly educated and empowered.
5. Invest in the Recovery Plan, because reopening amid the crises is only a temporary plan in the hope of a quick recovery. Therefore, proper investment in public health in schools, universities, hospitals, local and state governments is a move in the right direction.