COVID-19 has changed just about every facet of our daily lives. In addition to wearing masks and keeping ourselves socially distanced, the pandemic has altered how we all interact together. That includes our social lives, our work lives, and how our children go to school. While many public schools are offering virtual classrooms for students to learn from home, smaller IB® elementary schools near Chesapeake have reopened their doors to provide a more hands-on approach that students are more comfortable with. They can achieve this by keeping their class sizes small and putting a number of safety protocols in place.
One of the factors needed to make this possible is to update a number of policies, including, but not limited to health, safety, and communications. Working in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), as well as the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS), IB® elementary schools can make these necessary updates by following the latest guidelines, recommendations, and policies recommended by national, state, and local agencies.
Some of the policies that need to be taken into consideration include grouping and distancing, toys and other classroom materials, wearing facemasks, hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfection of school grounds and classrooms, student drop-off and pick-up procedures, health screening, holiday travel considerations, and more.
Updating illness policies need to include what factors will constitute sending a child, teacher, or administrator home from school, the responsibilities of parents when a child needs to be sent home, what kind of testing will be required for an individual to be allowed to return to school, how long an individual will need to stay isolated if COVID-19 symptoms are present, as well as any medical documentation that will be required to clear an individual to return to school.
Another consideration is if an outbreak is suspected at the school. In addition to creating policies regarding sending individuals home when showing COVID-19 symptoms, IB® elementary schools that reopen during the pandemic need to address what is necessary if a classroom appears to have been affected or if the entire schools needs to be temporarily shut down. Procedures need to be put in place to determine what factors might require a classroom or the school to close, how the premises will be disinfected based on national, state, and local recommendations, how long students, faculty, and the school staff will need to remain isolated, how students and teachers will be able to continue their studies via distance learning, what various staff members can continue to work from home, if possible, and what determinations will need to be made in order to reopen a classroom or the school.