Back to School
July 30, 2020 / by The “I Love U Guys” Foundation
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
New Way Back
The 2020-21 school year looks like it’ll be a doozy. We recognize there’s one thing dominating everyone’s mind: How can we keep our kids safe in schools while COVID-19 cases steadily increase across the country? The “I Love U Guys” Foundation has long been at the center of school safety and in some ways COVID-19 has sharpened our mission. While we’re not the experts on opening schools in a pandemic, we’ve been far from idle.
We created an entirely new program in response to the crisis called the Standard Distribution Method (SDM). Intended to help schools distribute food and other materials during shutdowns, the SDM has other applications for distribution, and aligns well with existing Incident Command Systems.
We also created a COVID-19 dashboard that can be integrated into our programs . Using data from a variety of public sources, anyone with a computer can see COVID-19 infection rates down to the school district level. We’re now including how to use this dashboard in our program trainings, integrating into existing Incident Command Systems.
We’ve also set up a studio to deliver all our trainings remotely. We’ve had several successful engagements, and like to think we’ve achieved a level of quality you all have come to expect from us, just delivered remotely (we like to say “same great content, less hugs”). While this was initially intended to comply with stay-at-home and social distancing practices, it has now become clear that our remote training option also helps schools keep safety a priority during an incredibly hectic time. No need to arrange physical locations and ask your already-taxed stakeholders to find additional time for travel. Everyone can attend our trainings from their living rooms, as a group in a conference room, or wherever is most convenient. We hope this will help administrators, already so burdened with demands of the pandemic, effectively meet their school safety training needs.
That’s our lane. And we’ll continue to find ways to adjust to what can only be described (even though we’re all probably tired of the term) as unprecedented circumstances.
As for others’ lanes, we’ve been keeping an eye on some best practices that have come across our inboxes from all corners of the school safety space. Here’s what we’re watching:
CDC Guidance On Re-opening Schools
We’re sure most of you are aware of this, but in May the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their recommendations on how to properly and safely reopen schools. Since then, a lot of misinformation has spread about what that guidance actually is, so let’s clear it all up.
- Face coverings should be worn by staff in all steps of reopening, and students — particularly older students — should be encouraged to wear fabric face masks. Masks should be worn “where feasible,” particularly in situations where physical distancing is difficult.
- Unless it creates concerns for students with asthma, schools should increase ventilation with outside air.
- Schools should ensure water fountains are safe to use after prolonged shutdowns.
- Students should be kept in small class cohorts throughout the day to limit possible transmission of the virus between groups.
- Schools should turn all student desks to face the same direction and space them six feet apart if possible.
- Common areas, such as cafeterias, should be closed to prevent crowding, and students should eat in their classrooms.
- Schools should provide enough “high touch” objects, like art supplies and electronics, so that students don’t have to share and items can be disinfected between uses.
- Schools should conduct daily health checks of staff and students and isolate individuals if they feel unwell during the school day.
- Administrators should provide options for telework and virtual learning for students and staff who are at higher risk for severe illness.
- Administrators should close schools for one or two days to clean and sanitize when a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19.
- extracurricular activities should be canceled in areas heavily affected by the coronavirus.
The CDC advises that these recommendations should be applied in a way that is “feasible, practical, acceptable, and tailored to the needs of each community.”
Visit the CDC website to learn more about these recommendations as well as why the CDC says it’s important for schools to reopen.
WWW: What We’re Watching
Drills and Social Distancing
We’re watching guidance related to performing drills while adhering to social distancing. In Colorado, the Division of Fire Prevention and Control (with information from the Missouri School Boards’ Association’s Center for Education Safety) released what we think is well reasoned guidance. They put it best: “The threat of natural and man-made emergencies does not recede just because we are facing new and difficult challenges related to this pandemic.”
We’ll continue to watch and share information we find useful.
Micro-schools and Home School Co-Ops
We’re watching the Micro-School (or “Pandemic Pods”) movement. Could these options help relieve the pressure of reopening? These smaller, less institutionalized learning environments of micro-schools have gained momentum as parents seek a consistent, in-person learning environment for their children that emphasizes safety and small class sizes.
Parents are assembling small groups of children and pooling their cash to offer tutors or teachers a professional salary. There is growing concern, however, for kids whose parents have fewer resources, and may struggle, worsening the inequality that plagues American education. This podcast addresses this issue for those of you wanting to explore more.
Written by The “I Love U Guys” Foundation