Many teachers, parents, and students are wondering how COVID-19 will change schools in 2021. In order to safely reopen school buildings, administrators have had to work closely with state and federal organizations like the CDC to find ways to protect everyone entering the school as much as possible. While many agree it is not yet safe to reopen schools, some may not have a choice but to open due to local laws, policy, and legislation. In these cases, COVID-19 will very obviously change schools and how things are done. Here are 9 ways COVID-19 has changed the average classroom, and it will continue to do so until a vaccine is achieved and distributed sufficiently enough to halt community spread.
1. The drop off line at school looks a little different this year. Parents will not be able to exit their vehicles to help their children at all. Staff members wait along the sidewalk to navigate students into the school. If children walk to school, the parents cannot walk them into their classrooms, but rather are expected to let them go at the nearest street corner.
2. Masks and face shields are now a normal sight in classrooms, and will obviously change schools and how teachers and students interact. Most students in schools that have already reopened wear face shields in class. Younger students may not be required to wear masks all day inside the classroom, but when they walk out of the room, they will usually be required to wear a mask. Older students are required to wear a mask during classes like Art, Music, PE, etc.
3. Big changes in classroom design mean that classrooms won’t look as full this year. The desks are supposed to be at least six feet apart, and are often all facing the same direction. Learning stations should be modified so that students are able to sit further apart. Some schools installed physical barriers like sneeze guards between desks. There should be sanitizing wipes, soap, and hand sanitizer stocked in every classroom.
4. The use of shared objects in class won’t be allowed in most classrooms during COVID-19. Items that are tough to clean are not to be shared. Each child should have their own supplies individually labeled. This means each student should have their own art supplies, notebooks, crayons, etc., and they should never share electronic devices, books, or other learning aids.
5. Many schools are trying their best to get better ventilation. Some have installed high-grade filters and HVAC systems, while others are simply trying to open the windows and doors more. In addition to properly wearing an effective mask while distancing 10′-12′ apart, ventilation and filtration are among the most powerful ways to protect students from COVID in a classroom, so this will hopefully be one of the biggest ways that COVID-19 will change schools.
6. With the need for social distancing in schools, congregating in the hallways or after lunch isn’t going to happen this year. Even the line in the cafeteria will require standing six feet apart. Instead of playing crowded games in PE, students will do exercises or run 6′ apart, although 10′ or more is better.
7. Some classrooms are moving online to virtual instruction. Instead of going into an actual classroom, some schools choose to hold virtual classes. This will also happen in many schools when a classroom or entire school is forced to quarantine. In this case, students will log into different classrooms where a teacher educates them virtually as if they were in the physical classroom.
8. Before anyone even walks into a school building, they will be expected to monitor their symptoms closely. If anyone in the household of a student or staff member is exhibiting symptoms of a basic cold, they must fill out a form. Many schools will even take the temperature of students as they enter the building. Stopping the virus spread starts at home, so everyone in the house is expected to follow these guidelines.
9. There will likely be a need for multiple coronavirus tests per person this year, especially since a cold isn’t just a cold until you get a negative COVID test result. If you are experiencing symptoms or feel you may have been exposed to COVID-19, please click here for more information on getting tested.
Classrooms across the country are going to look different for the time being, and only time will tell when a traditional day of school will be possible again. The pandemic has changed the way the world approaches education–the classrooms may be smaller with extreme sanitizing efforts, but the knowledge and power given to students to face the future are more critical now as they’ve ever been. For schools in districts where there is no choice but to open, COVID-19 safety strategies are a must.
Boston Tutoring Services