So we will soon have the ok to return to the classroom! Congratulations to us to make it to ”Phase Three”, but what does that mean, exactly? That it’s possible we will never see the traditional classroom again as we knew it. When our kids return this fall, physical distancing will see to that. The recommendations for schools to reopen (including in-person classes at Academy Learning) seem to include the following:
1) no-touch thermometers
2) gallons (literally) of hand sanitizer
3) face shields for every teacher and cloth face coverings for students.
4) keeping students 6 feet apart in the classroom, hallways, and at recess
5) a rigorous hygiene regime of hand-washing before/after eating, coughing, sneezing, being outside, and using the restroom.
6) staggered arrival times to minimize contact between students, staff and families
7) staggered desks to be spaced 6 feet apart, possibly separated by partitions to avoid face-to-face contact
8) meals in classrooms or outdoors rather than in cafeterias
9) frequent cleaning and disinfecting of all surfaces
10) If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, that school can place a temporary closure with a 14-day quarantine period for those exposed.
If you are a SUJSD family, you were invited to be a part of the district’s recent polling efforts looking to see who is interested in 1) returning for a full school week, 2) continuing distance-learning, or 3) using a hybrid. It seems that State Superintendent Tony Thurmond is saying that the “hybrid model” of instruction will win the day as it is the likely candidate to preserve social distancing while still holding at least some in-person classes.
I am all ears about how the Department of Education will perform this new juggling act, and what sort of budget they have to hire all those new employees to enforce all of this distancing and hygiene, From the makeshift classroom lunchrooms to the hallways to the sneezes on the playground. I’m thinking of the already pre-COVID packed day of a teacher or principal dealing with these tentative guidelines. Any SJUSD and private school teacher that I have met with, and there have been dozens over the past 7 years, is an amazing educator. If these educators are asked to take their focus away from their usual lesson planning and classroom management, would it jeopardize reaching goals and benchmarks by the end of the year? The new “enforcer” role certainly cannot be theirs as well.
I join California in our joy that confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are down. I do admit the skeptic in me is doubtful about how we are going to make the transition to the classroom work. Are we going to give these students the education that they all deserve, as we are still having to prepare for a potential increase in infections as schools reopen? Reports from around the globe give a resounding, “YES”, actually! Out of 600 teachers from 50 countries responding to a EDUTOPIA poll, a large majority of them reported they are happy to be back in school, along with their students, despite all the new rules and restrictions. The struggle with anxiety and depression had been very real, and the return to school has brought back a sense of normalcy, routine, and the necessary network of friends. Most of the poll respondents agreed that kids are learning effectively in classrooms and that technology integration is even improving “pedagogy around the world.” Still, these teachers have reported that the balance of online teaching and time in the classroom and the learning curve for remote teaching has nevertheless left them “exhausted”.
I am all about repeating the same effectiveness and optimism as our global neighbors, and I want the Academy to contribute towards that success with our schools’ own hybrid models. Be on the lookout for the Academy’s own “home delivery” classes, when our instructors come to your home with our hands-on learning kits and instruction for your kiddos, it can hopefully also provide a little freedom (and sanity) for you and your learner. My team and I are also already touching base with your local public and parochial school principals to see how our tutoring and classes (online and in-person) can support you with the upcoming hybrid model.
Here are a few great links with more details: