As I sit watching the morning news over coffee, listening to the unsettling stories about administrators, teachers, parents and students fighting with the best way to reopen education. My heart breaks just a little with every new case, with every new fight, with every panicked teacher and staff who have to go through this. Education is not some place where people should be worried about life or death situations. It is a place for community, friendship, positivity, growth, and most important, learning. While I cannot sit here and tell you which way to start the school year is best. I can tell you, this is the time for hope, for creativity, and for preparedness. This is the year for teachers and administrators to make sure they are prepared for any situation that is going to be thrown their way.
- Administrators and school officials should be pretty much creating a new handbook just for this year, all the what if’s should be answered just in case.
- Parents should be ready for more lockdowns or online learning. What is your backup plan if you need to go to work?
- Teachers, take a breath and remember you have a huge support community ready to help you. Right now, it’s time to make a list of everything you need to do and start checking it off. I got one started for you.
Checklist for the beginning of the school year.
- What are your district guidelines?
- Sanitizing standards? What will you need to do and what cleaning supplies will you be provided?
- School learning environment, will it be in person full time? Hybrid learning? Fully online? Find out the plan.
- In person environment standards, if you are going back in person what will the district except? How far apart will the desks be? Will there be mask requirements?(will you be provided a mask or shield?) Can students share certain materials?
- Technology standards, this is especially if you are hybrid or distance teaching. What lesson delivery platform will your district be using? How will students log in? What are requirements for lessons?
2. Lesson Preperation
- What lessons or units are a no go completely in your curriculum? What do you need to set aside and not do this year in order to follow safety guidelines?
- What lessons need a creative solution? Can you adjust some lessons to fit guidelines and still make it a safe and fun experience?
- What lessons are all good and you can still use?
- What new lessons can you replace the ones who are a no go with for this year?
- Do you have at least a 6 week plan for remote learning if a lockdown happens again?
- With times like these, how are you going to implement more social and emotional learning into your lessons to help students (and yourself)cope with these times?
- How are you going to sanitize your materials?
- What instruments can you use? Which ones can you not use due to cleaning restrictions?
- What materials do you need to get more of in order to follow district guidelines?
- What do you need to make? Do you need to make kits for each student?
- If you have families opting out of in person instruction, how will you communicate with them? What work will you be providing home?
- For communication to parents and families who are opting for inoerson instruction. How will you communicate quickly if there is an issue at school?
- Do you have prepared communications for transitioning again to remote learning if needed?
- How about how you will communicate with families who are not in person but have little technology at home to communicate with?
This is just a start to help, we always know there is more to think about. Just remember, this is never a time to give up. It’s a time to take a breath, realize this is just another obstacle in your way that you will learn how to jump over, and remember that you are a strong and creative person who is ready for anything. Always know, that we are here to help.