By the end of August 2020, we saw most US cities negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic for approximately six months with no sign of an “end” in the near future. While more optimism has begun to flourish in recent weeks over effective treatment plans, case reduction, and even the potential for a new vaccine, many individuals around the world have simply chosen to accept the “new normal.”
Many Midwest states did not feel the full effects of the restrictions put in place due to the coronavirus until mid-late March, which meant that most (if not all) schools from Pre-K to Colleges and Universities were placed prematurely out of session. Now, as more “relaxed” restrictions are being implemented in certain areas, many students are returning to their regular coursework either online, in-person, or both.
According to CNN, as many as 34 states have elected to operate on a district-by-district basis to allow for a hybrid of online and in-person learning (Staff, 2020). CNN further suggests that back-to-school shopping may include a few items never before seen in most backpacks (Villano, 2020).
- Hand Sanitizer and Face Coverings – Part of the “new normal.” Students are advised to have as many as two or three face coverings available every day.
- Wi-Fi Connectivity – Many schools are doling out Wi-Fi hotspots to families in need or setting up makeshift access points to allow for remote learning.
- Mobile Devices – Other schools are focusing on the devices themselves (iPads, Kindles, etc.) to put students in the best position to succeed.
- Headphones – These tools will enable kids to log on to class sessions and tune out distractions.
- Desk or Workstation – The space should be reserved solely as their at-home “classroom.”
- Planner or Event Calendar – List of daily activities with times by which work must be completed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while opening schools does pose a risk for the continued spread of COVID-19, there are many reasons why opening schools for in-person instruction is important. These reasons include the critical role that schools play in the well-being of communities, the added support that in-person instruction can provide, as well as the continuation of other special services which are pivotal for student success (CDC.gov, 2020).
For more information regarding the status of school openings in your community, AFI recommends consulting your local Board of Education or county official.
“Preparing K-12 School Administrators for a Safe Return to School in Fall 2020.” www.CDC.gov, 26 Aug. 2020, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/prepare-safe- return.html
Staff, CNN. “Where schools are reopening in the US.” www.CNN.com, CNN, 31 Aug. 2020, www.cnn.com/interactive/2020/health/coronavirus-schools-reopening/
Villano, Matt. “Our pandemic back-to-school supply list.” www.CNN.com, CNN, 13 Aug. 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/08/13/health/school-year-essentials-coronavirus-wellness/index.html