If you watched the recent Senate hearings on COVID-19, you are well aware of the conflicting opinions about schools reopening in the fall. Many medical experts caution that they do not fully know how the virus affects children. They argue that schools must have adequate measures in place to prevent staff and students from spreading the virus.
However, some government leaders argue that children are at low risk for virus complications. They believe children will face greater setbacks if they don’t physically return to school.
One thing that most people can agree on is that students are currently experiencing learning loss. Unequal access to resources and support is widening the learning gap between socio-economic groups.
With all of these perspectives in mind, school officials must now answer the challenging question: “How do we proceed?” Assuming physical buildings will reopen, their plans must include:
- health and safety procedures
- guidance for addressing social-emotional concerns
- strategies for assessing and recovering from learning loss
The transition will not be easy. Once again, teachers will be tasked with adopting new instructional approaches. And after months at home, students must readjust to classroom expectations and cooperating with peers.
Which resources could help K–6 teachers navigate these uncharted waters? Here are some ideas!
- Handbooks or worksheets with appealing characters who provide simple explanations of health measures, such as wearing a mask (For young children in particular, equating wearing a mask with being a superhero may ease their apprehensions.)
- Short videos or science experiments that visually demonstrate why social distancing and washing hands help reduce the spread of germs
- Social-emotional activities that include emoji cards for identifying and expressing emotions, puppets for role-playing social interactions, and sensory objects for practicing self-regulation
- Grade-specific support materials to help the many teachers who will have to review or teach large chunks of another grade’s curriculum (Some schools will ask teachers to reteach parts of the previous grade. Other schools may have teachers loop with their 2019—2020 students and continue with the next grade’s content.)
- Fun enrichment activities for advanced learners to complete independently while educators provide additional help to the learners who suffered most from the extended “summer slide”