Countries across the globe continue to remain at different points of success in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, every nation faces different challenges ranging from overburdened healthcare systems to rising economic despair. In countries emerging from the first wave of coronavirus cases, the pertinent question of when to re-open schools is on every stakeholder’s mind. Schools provide not just a learning ecosystem and social support to students but also a safe haven for child engagement, without which many parents can’t resume their work. However, the consideration of re-opening schools also carries with it the risk of exposing students to the very real possibility of a viral resurgence. Hence, understandably, parents and teachers are both wary. Education systems need to be guided by science when deciding how and when to re-open schools.
So what are our choices? We discussed with many academicians and health care advisors. Took opinion from thought leaders and practitioners. There is not a single clear solution, however a mix of various proactive and practical solutions, will help our school system. Kapdec founder, Yogesh Makkar, summarizes various points below:
In summary, the four obvious action steps most schools can take and some schools are already taking:
- Sanitisation of entire school premises.
- Thermal scanning at the entry point.
- Innovative in-class seating to ensure social distancing.
- Making masks compulsory or alternative means.
However, we also summarize the four not-so-obvious considerations, that schools can apply :
- Longer and perhaps more flexible school times (or fewer classes per day) accommodate varying lunch and recess schedules that permit social distancing and sanitization.
- Avoiding the use of gloves. Disposable gloves are seldom disposed of properly and could be a risk if strewn on school grounds. Re-usable gloves can also lead to contamination if not handled properly. It is best to avoid gloves and use mandatory hand washing and hand sanitization instead.
- Synchronous hybrid learning, e., combining online and in-person students synchronously. This will help implement the necessary social distancing.
- Greater use of digital technology for homework submission and grading reduces contamination and exposure to germs whenever and where ever possible. This can be done via online quizzes, emailed homework submissions, etc.