Due to the effects of the coronavirus, schools everywhere are being forced to shut down because of the real and present danger of spreading the virus. Although school closures have proven effective in the past, every teacher knows that there is nothing that hinders education more than missing a day much less half a semester or the rest of the school year! Even though schools are converting to online learning, not all are prepared to encounter the obstacles that it presents. Even then, some children don't have access to computers, devices, or the internet within their homes to participate in such learning.
There is much concern as it pertains to students. Teachers everywhere are concerned that, for students without a secure home, school is their only safe place. 30 million students and even parents rely on school and its resources to feed their children and if schools are closed with no steps taken to feed them, these children have no choice but to go hungry. Obviously, the decision to close schools comes at no small cost for students and teachers. People all around the world are taking significant steps to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus pandemic. This involves preventing person-to-person transmission, which has proven effective for other countries, but is almost impossible for children to do. Although most children do not appear to suffer much when they contract the virus (In fact, many may not even know), they do run the risk of contracting the virus and giving it to others. Because of this and the nature of small classrooms, school is a well-suited environment for the spread of coronavirus.
Closing schools makes a big difference in flattening the curve. This is evident in past epidemics such as influenza according to a study in Nature in 2016 and in BMC Infectious Diseases. Closing schools can reduce the attack rate by more than 25%, and the new case rate by 50%. In this post, we’ll explain what has happened in education due to coronavirus, how it may affect you, and steps you could take to maintain a learning relationship with your students.
What does this mean for you?
Texas Education Commissioner, Mike Morath, told school superintendents and lawmakers to be prepared for long-term school district closures. He mentioned that these closures could potentially last through the end of the school year. The federal government plans to offer waivers from testing requirements for areas heavily impacted by the virus. The state has already said school districts with prolonged school closures due to coronavirus concerns may avoid financial penalties, as long as they can prove they are teaching students remotely. But, as mentioned before this poses an issue for children without the proper resources to access the class online.
Educators everywhere are discovering new ways to work around this crisis. Most teachers have their focus at this time on their student’s well-being, both mentally and emotionally. Here are 3 different ways teachers can not only remain professional but keep students up-to-date and stay on top of the curve while we undergo this crisis:
- Mobilize the Classroom: Keep parents up-to-date on the assignments and classroom objectives. There are multiple creative ways you can do this such as creating a classroom blog, recording a video, or emailing (or mailing) newsletters. Give them access to class material and overall weekly objectives. Through creativity and flexibility, you can bring the classroom to the homes of your students!
- Create a Schedule: Create a schedule for yourself, your students, and your parents. Help the students understand when they can contact you during the day to ask questions on assignments. Make sure that parents have guidance on how they can help their children with their school work, downtime, and other expectations. Most importantly, set your own routine! Teachers are known for their trouble turning off the teacher and beginning to decompress. Be sure you set your own schedule and honor the boundary between work and home life.
- Set Boundaries: Things are progressively changing. Setting times and expectations when communicating with parents, such as when they can contact you to ask questions, can be very helpful to parents and students. Keeping a clear line of communication can go a long way. Having clearly established boundaries means communicating what you are willing to do and what you are not willing to do when interacting with parents and students. Click here for some exercises you can do to create boundaries and identify your sphere of influence!
Continue to stay up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 updates by visiting the World Health Organization. Minimize socialization to combat the spread of the virus and soon teachers all over the globe will be returning to their schools with students ready to learn.