Parents aren’t the only ones wondering what school will be like in the time of coronavirus. Teachers anxiously await news of whether or when school will open and what they need to know to keep themselves, their families, and their students safe.
How can you train your staff for going back to school with COVID-19?
Know the Facts
Emphasize that teachers and students who are sick should stay at home!
Keep up with the latest news, information, and guidelines. Find trusted resources to help you develop and update policies. Then clearly communicate all changes to your teachers and staff.
To get you started, here is an excellent resource from LearningKeepsGoing.org.
The CDC provides some guiding principles for decisions on when and how to open schools.
- Lowest Risk - students and teachers engage in virtual-only classes, activities, and events.
- More Risk - small, in-person classes, activities, and events. Groups of students stay together (cohort) and with the same teacher throughout and across the school day. Groups do not mix. Students remain at least six feet apart and do not share objects.
- Highest Risk - full-sized, in-person classes, activities, and events. Students are not spaced apart, they share classroom materials or supplies, and they mix between classes and activities.
Your decision on how to offer classes must take into account the prevalence of COVID-19 in your community, the recommendations and guidelines from your local health department, and information from the local and state government.
Dealing with Illness, Cleaning, Transportation, and Professional Development
The first thing to teach your staff is how to handle a student or teacher who comes to school sick or becomes ill while there. Show everyone the plan for isolating potentially infectious individuals and what each staff member is expected to do.
- Pass along creative ways to teach children how to wash their hands and wear a mask properly.
- Stress how to cough and sneeze into elbows, even with a mask on.
- If you are implementing a screening process, take everyone through each step, and ensure understanding. Answer any questions and emphasize coming to you or others in the administration if someone is unsure.
- Go over the transportation procedure if your school uses buses. How do you maintain physical distancing and hygiene on the bus?
If you modified your cleaning process, train to the newest recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning with soap and water first is essential for prepping a surface for disinfecting. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when disinfecting. Your teachers may not realize disinfectant spray may need to stay in place for a time.
If you require professional development, work with teachers to find safe and acceptable ways to continue their education. Review online programs to ensure they meet requirements.
Emphasize Flexibility and Creativity
As your teachers plan lessons, encourage them to consider how to present the same material in-person and online. The potential for your school to pivot from in-person learning to virtual learning is high.
Depending on the area of the country, you may be starting school online or delaying the start of the year. Keep the lines of communication open to your staff about expectations and needs. Invite creative ways to accommodate education as it is today, not as it was last year.
Infection Control Training
Post a list of symptoms of COVID-19 prominently. Each teacher should learn to recognize signs of a contagious illness, not only of COVID-19 but other infectious diseases as well. As they observe their students and colleagues, encourage them to watch for signs of fever, excessive coughing, and other symptoms.
Create and enforce a process for brief closings if a student or teacher is confirmed to have COVID-19.
Mental Health Support
Acknowledge that times are stressful. Include training on caring for children under stress and in need of emotional support. Let teachers know you expect them to take care of themselves, too.
Whatever you and your administration have decided for the upcoming year, communicate, over-communicate, and communicate again how things are different, and what is expected moving forward.