Supporting the Whole Child

Five pillars of health safety to prepare for the 2020-2021 academic year 

As the new normal began to set in and life began a slow climb back to different phases of reopening, schools promised delayed graduations, return to campuses in the fall, and hoped to continue delivering education in its traditional capacities. Recent surges in COVID-19 outbreaks and Coronavirus cases are putting into question the aptitude for schools to return in the fall for the 2020-2021 school year. Many schools have implemented new schedules and limited vacation days in the fall to instigate a temporary period of online learning from Thanksgiving break till after winter vacation accounting for the likelihood of an outbreak in early winter. While schools have taken individualized steps to take precautionary measures that best fit their needs, recent spikes are requiring schools to finalize multiple plans of action pertaining to different outcomes the virus might generate. 

Meeting with and discussing these plans has been one of SchoolSuite’s top priorities in adapting our software to meet the needs of schools in their varying capacities. In doing so, in conjunction with CDC recommendations and NGO’s like NAIS, 5 areas of accountability have emerged in risk management

 

 

1: Administrative: implementing proper procedures and policies

  • As mentioned, having multiple plans of actions for outcomes such as complete return to school, partial return, remote learning, and hybrid online programs for those testing positive for COVID-19 before the academic year begins is a multifaceted approach for faculty to have adaptable lesson plans, parents to be assured of well thought out approaches to virus mitigation, and for students to receive a rigorous education in any setting. Parallel to these academic plans is/are releasing comprehensive policies and procedures to mitigate risks of virus contact and spreading easily reachable by administrators, faculty, parents, and students.
  • Improved sick date/late policies for those with and caring for.
  • Reworking the academic calendar has also been on many schools’ minds and in their academic plans for this fall. While many schools are focusing on hybrid in school and at home learning sessions, extra measures to rethink sick and late policies for students should be taken to ensure students or their loved ones suffering from the virus does not jeopardize academic standing and ability to complete courses. Additionally, staff and faculty should feel this same support and have mechanisms in place to make them feel at ease when needing substitutes or extended time off due to the virus.

2: Education: effectively and synergistically integrate online/remote learning

  • The first go-around at anything can be shaky. Schools struggled to abruptly transition to remote learning. Applications like Zoom and Google Meet presented technological hurdles while teachers rushed to adjust lesson plans. Now with more opportunity for planning during summer break, teachers need to bring a heightened level of preparedness to account for the distractions of learning at home. Keeping students on a schedule, engaged, and actively participating is largely the challenge during video chats. Implementing measures like proper dress and seating arrangements can help invoke classroom like engagement while scheduling study groups and help sessions can give students one on one attention. These guidelines not only pertain to courses but extracurriculars as well that highlight students’ unique interests and talents otherwise likely discouraged during COVID quarantines.

3: Health: containment, support, and documenting

  • As the pandemic progresses and health guidelines become more informed responses to COVID-19 may change, while there is no true right answer in such extraordinary times, making all parties feel safe and informed must not be misconstrued. Depending largely on school size and the ratio of boarding to day students, health measures like testing are subject to administrations. However, the same expectations of the CDC should be followed unanimously around the campuses. Having current and well-documented reports of student and faculty health records along with improved health features like temperature tracking maintain health safety and trackable virus outbreaks.

4: Supporting the whole child: COVID-19 psychological impacts

  • Alongside the importance of health and education is mental clarity that many have experienced disturbances in since the pandemic. Increased precautions are alluding to big changes in not only academics but sports and social lives. With some schools already halting fall sports seasons and implementing strict distancing policies, students will feel isolated. Schools should be prepared with increased resources in the form of in-person and online counseling, online resources, and strong efforts to continue communication between clubs and sports teams.

5: Campus environment: reconstructing physical barriers

  • Each school will again have different guidelines for the flow of campus traffic. Accessibility to current hygiene guidelines is necessary and comes in forms of campus information flyers, social distancing place markers, and open conversations between students and faculty on how to proceed in classroom settings, sports, and social settings. Other aspects to keep in mind include creating guidelines for off-campus excursions, staggered scheduling, dining hall etiquette, and transitioning administrative paperwork to online platforms.

 

SchoolSuite has taken measures to implement these five pillars of health safety for the 2020-2021 school year in our platform. Read our COVID-19 Statement and request a demo to learn more. 

Important steps to take: 

  • Implementing proper procedures and policies 
  • Proper recording of administrative meetings, plans of action, and events 
  • Boarding school isolations/day students 
  • How to effectively and synergistically integrate online/remote learning 
  • Keeping up to date on health records
  • Increased emotional and physical support mechanisms 
  • Containing campus infections and outbreak 

Underline words 

Key words: risk management, considerations, CDC recommendations 

Topics: 

  • Boarding school isolations/day students 
  • How to effectively and synergistically integrate online/remote learning 
  • Keeping up to date on health records
  • Increased emotional and physical support mechanisms 
  • Containing campus infections and outbreak 

Links: 

https://www.nais.org/articles/pages/additional-covid-19-guidance-for-schools

https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/schools/socialdistance.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools.html