Check out some of these tips that will establish a school's essential role during a crisis.
When the COVID-19 outbreak was declared as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020 (before it was announced as a pandemic on March 11, 2020), the education sector all around the world have already had their fingers on the pulse, watching for news and updates to better prepare their institutions for new regulations or even cancellation.
In the Philippines, even before the announcement of the initial community quarantine on March 15, schools cancelled classes mostly in Metro Manila. The decision was later adopted throughout the country. This resulted in over 849.4 million children and youth worldwide having their education disrupted.
With schools closed, learning can be delayed. Eventually, a child might fall behind in their studies. Schools, parents, and students are seeking ways to continue their education without disruption.
Schools have to adjust to new ways of teaching. From daily assignments, emailed projects, to online sessions, it’s evident that technology plays a huge role in continuing education at home.
But how can this be carried out safely, consistently, and as effectively as face-to-face classroom teaching? This guide will help you implement homeschooling measures that work for your school — from remote working operation plans, considering childcare, to ensuring the continuity of education. This will help administrators plan for teaching, learning, and research as well as address concerns related to COVID-19.
Share Facts, Not Fakes
As school administrators and employers, it’s an important responsibility to discern and stay updated and on COVID-19’s activity.
Other than sending information only from verified and reputable sources to your school community (we’ve listed here websites to check), educate everyone on how to do proper fact-checking. Post this on your school’s communication channels such as social media, e-mail, or group chats. This way, employees, parents, and students will think twice before sharing COVID-19 related news and stories and keep an atmosphere of trust and support in your online communities.
Reinforce Hygiene and Cleanliness
How can schools inform faculty, parents, and students on proper hygiene and cleanliness now that they’re learning at home? It’s vital to keep them informed and educated so that the entire school community is kept safe.
For students, integrating hygiene and COVID-19 awareness topics into school work will help establish good habits and the importance of sticking to them. Young students will benefit from age-appropriate materials such as posters or videos, which can be sent via email, posted on social media, and sent through group chats. Reaction papers, video presentations, and art activities can be applied for older students.
Advisers or parent coordinators should take advantage of group chats to release proper hygiene guidelines for the home or even scheduled reminders to prompt caregivers on what to do. Send infographics or guidelines they can print. The Center For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) has handwashing resources that include health promotion materials, information on proper handwashing technique, and tips for families to help children develop good handwashing habits that they can use.
Once the regular school sessions have resumed, routinely clean frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, and counter tops with household cleaners and disinfectants. Use all cleaning products according to the directions on the label. Teach students to wipe down items like keyboards, desks, remote controls, and the like with disposable disinfectant wipes or paper towel and alcohol before each use. Implement targeted health education and integrate disease prevention and control in daily activities and lessons to remind students, parents, and teachers to wash hands, clean up, and avoid face touching.
Use Multiple Communication Channels
To make sure everyone is informed and on the same page, update all your communication channels: website, social media, messaging apps, and even your mobile or landline number. This is where mass message blasts come into play as well. Remind everyone to always refer to these only to avoid confusion. You can also encourage a call-tree like set-up to cascade important announcements to smaller groups, like grade level and section representatives. This will allow parents and students to have a specific person they can raise any concerns to and get feedback from immediately. On your end, it will be easier for you to coordinate with key persons who will already filter and consolidate concerns from their groups, instead of your entire community at large.
Maximize Collaboration Tools
To prepare for remote working and learning without disruption, ensure faculty and students have a stable internet connection. Employees may utilize productivity tools and collaborate using Google Workspace (previously known as G Suite), Microsoft Office 365, and similar solutions. Teachers can also back-up, share, and edit large amounts of files like classroom discussions and written requirement submissions instantaneously through tools like Google Drive, iCloud, or Dropbox.
Set Aside An Area For Studies
Implement e-learning plans and distance learning options for students. Use existing infrastructure and services such as Blackboard, Skype, or Zoom for lectures, reports, and presentations for both teachers and students.
Distance learning may also include using strategies such as faculty check-ins, recorded class meetings or lectures, and live class meetings. You can use tools and apps such as Edmodo for this. It pays to invest on distance-learning solutions to be digital-ready, especially for crises that your school can face in the future.
Tools like Edmodo streamline school-wide communication, making messages, class materials, and learning easily accessible for free. Parents are also updated and stay in sync with teachers, empowered to support continuous learning at home.
Other means of student support such as library services, print materials, or quizzes can be made available online. Different digital media can also support study groups, even teacher-student or parent-teacher chats. Universities may opt to provide free online databases for students to access using their student identity information. Here’s a list of recommended online platforms to utilize.
In this day and age, children and young people are considered global citizens: powerful agents of change. They are the next generation of caregivers, scientists, and doctors. This crisis presents the opportunity to help them learn, cultivate compassion, and increase resilience while building a safer and more caring community. Having information and facts about COVID-19 will help diminish students’ fears and anxieties around the disease. It can even support their ability to cope with this pandemic’s impact in their lives. With digital-based work and learning, students, parents, teachers, and school administrators can stay ahead with assurance during this time of crisis.
Stay safe, only get COVID-19 updates from reputable sources, and share this important guide to your colleagues and friends. The DOH COVID hotline number is (02) 894-COVID.
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