As we celebrate National Teacher Day, and National Teacher Appreciation Week, this is likely the first time many parents or guardians have ever had to suddenly step in as a “substitute,” for at least some of their child’s day, and seriously find out what it’s like to be a daily educator.

But the pandemic which has altered our routines and re-framed our thinking will likely change things for the foreseeable future, if not for good.  Here are some of the changes you may expect, according to experts interviewed by NPR:

  1.  Health & Hygiene –  Sanitizer and washing stations will be at entrances and exits, and more.  Rooms will be sanitized at least daily.  Temperatures may be taken at some schools, as children and staff enter the building.
  2.  Smaller Class Size  – Experts in countries such as Italy and Denmark find that the safest size is 15 or fewer students, with an ideal of about 12, per classroom.  Desks would be spaced farther apart.  Look for less use of group tables.
  3.  Staggered Schedules – More than one educational expert suggests that one group of kids might attend school on Monday, Wednesday and Friday one week, then Tuesday and Thursday the following week…  flip-flopping with a complimentary group.
  4.  Younger Sooner – “Denmark reopened its day cares and primary schools first.  Norway started with kindergartens, and Israel, with special education kindergartens.:  But another researcher points out to NPR that “the younger children are more likely to be “putting their hands and their mouths on their face” and, therefore, potentially spreading infection.”
  5.  New Calendar – “To make up for the learning lost, while schools are closed, there have been suggestions of starting school sooner, or continuing through next summer, or both.”
  6.  Different Attendance Policy – Schools can open up, but some parents might still choose to keep their children at home.  So “Virtual Attendance” may count.
  7.  New Version of Assemblies – Sports events, rallies, plays, even teacher conferences will likely happen via live stream.
  8.  Remote Learning Remains – And school communities must make sure that each child has the same opportunity to learn as the next.  So, that means overcoming the digital divide.  Chromebooks and tablets and iPads and such now become necessary utilities – more so than physical books.  Eskelsen Garcia of the NEA says the equity issue is acute:  “What we’ve been telling [political leaders] for years is the digital divide is hurting children.  It’s hurting entire communities.  To have broadband, a tablet or a laptop is not to play video games. It is as essential as indoor plumbing. It is what you need to succeed. And now it’s been laid bare.”
  9.  Social, Emotional, Practical HelpDevelopmental experts say disruption from the pandemic constitutes an “adverse childhood experience” for every American child. When schools reopen, says Virginia’s superintendent of public instruction, James Lane, ameliorating this trauma will be at the core of their mission.”I also think that there is a need for us to focus on social and emotional learning for students,” Lane says, “and not only how we can provide the academic support, but how can we provide the mental health support and the wraparound supports for students, when they come back, to help them recover and bring back that safety net of schools.”See the full article from NPR, HERE.
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