Safety is on everyone’s mind as we start this new school year. We want to ensure that every student, teacher, school personnel and family member stays healthy this year as most students return to school full time for the first full school year since the pandemic began.
In order to feel comfortable creating a safe and healthy classroom environment, consider these tips.
Learn and prepare for safety measures.
Find out what safety measures will be required in your school or classroom (masks, physical distancing, dividers, etc.). Speak up! Ask questions if you’re unsure about what some of the measures mean, or if you think the measures miss the mark. It is important to be clear on what the required measures are and their purpose so that you can accurately implement them.
Consider what measures you want to add.
After gaining an understanding of what is required, consider what additional safety measures you may need or want to add to make your classroom run smoothly.
Think through the flow of children in your space (physically walk through the classroom as though you are a student!). How do they enter the room? Where do they sit? What do they touch? How do they gather? How do materials get passed out and work get turned in? Review each step and see whether safety measures are effective or need to be changed.
Consider any physical interactions between you and students, such as daily greetings at the classroom door. Think about how you might amend any physical interactions to include safety protocols.
Make a plan to introduce safety measures to students.
Think of how you’ll introduce and reiterate safety measures with students. Will you have signs and posters (in classrooms where students can read), or pictures (for younger students)? Will you demonstrate how to appropriately wear a mask, or find a great video on YouTube? Will you place dots on the floor to show students where to line up? In what ways can you prepare for the introduction of safety measures to students?
Plan to be flexible.
It’s pretty unlikely that safety measures that are in place in August will still be the right measures in place in May. None of us can predict how the next few months will unfold, nor can we accurately guess how students will follow the procedures. Wrap your head around flexibility now, and know that changes will come. Prepare to be adaptable while also advocating for what you and your students need to be safe and successful in the classroom environment.
Here’s wishing all teachers and students a safe, healthy school year!