By now, most schools are reopening and students are returning to school. Team4Tech recommends following safe reopening tips as laid out by the CDC and the WHO. Tips discussed include staggering the beginning and end of the school day, bringing students to school in cohorts, strictly enforcing the proper use of cloth face coverings, canceling assemblies and other events that create crowded conditions, social distancing of student desks (1m +), teach and reinforce appropriate hygiene and social distancing practices, leaving doors and especially windows open to allow for fresh air circulation, and proactively developing a plan for when a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19.
Schools should also prepare for absenteeism and potential school closures to ensure that students don’t fall even further behind. Posting assignments on e-learning platforms such as Google Classroom, Moodle, or Schoology helps students keep track of work as well as to keep up if they are absent. Our partners at LEAP Science and Maths schools in South Africa have done this in an innovative way by setting up WhatsApp groups for classes. This has helped to reach more students and crucially has started to open up possibilities for virtual learning amongst students that don’t have access to computers or wifi at home. Now that they are returning to school, students can download materials to their phones in order to access them at a later time from home.
A large amount of missed classes due to the pandemic shutdowns has, in many cases, set learners behind a normal learning trajectory. According to The World Bank, “COVID-19 could result in a loss of 0.6 years of schooling adjusted for quality, bringing down the effective years of basic schooling that children achieve during their schooling life from 7.9 years to 7.3 years.” However we look at it, the vast majority of students have fallen behind. Technology is a powerful tool for overcoming this. We would recommend students review content that they need extra support with using a platform such as Khan Academy (free video lessons on most K-12 topics) or IXL (paid subscription for interactive math and literacy practice).
What tips do you have for other schools as they re-open? Discuss on our Community of Practice Facebook page.