What will the future of school look like?


Ever since the CDC came out with new guidelines fo reopening schools this week, we teachers, especially of the youngest children, have been freaking out! How can we move forward with these new regulations?

The first one states that children over age 2 will wear masks.  Really? For 6 hours each day?  I teach 4 and 5 year olds.  It makes me cringe not to be able to see them smile.  And they can’t stop playing with their pants and or keep their shirts out of their mouth or fingers out of their noses.  How long do you think these masks will last?  I suppose there will be back ups in their individual supply boxes, right?

No sharing of any items… Isn’t that the point of kindergarten?  To learn how to share.  I guess not anymore.  So will play time be rotated:  one kid at a time into the kitchen or block area wearing gloves and a mask, immediately to be sprayed with Lysol and then another child gets to play? That seems a bit lame.

Recent research states there is a crisis in Kindergarten.  That we were pushing academics too hard and that children needed more time to learn skills through play. The Alliance for Childhood wrote recommendations about the importance of play in kindergarten Crisis in Kindergarten: Why Children need to play in School After all the research I’ve read on the benefits of play in school I am sad to see that sharing toys and games will be eliminated.

Desks 6 feet apart all facing the same way.  In my 20 years of teaching kindergarten we have never had desks in the classroom.  The little people sit at tables to do their work. To make room for 20-25 desks I guess we will need to remove the play areas and carpet for story time.  We won’t really need those areas anymore anyway.

No communal shared spaces – cafeterias, playgrounds. I think keeping 5 year olds at a desk for 6 hours a day should be an easy task.  Maybe we can set a timer and every 20 minutes jog in place for a minute.  We sure would not want children to have any fun at school.

School buses – one child per seat, skip rows.  Ask any kid the best part of school and they will many times tell you the bus ride.  I’m not really sure what happens on that bus, but I guess that is why it is the best part of the day.  We will just need to hire a few more buses to be sure the kids can’t be near each other, and probably some type of guard on the bus to enforce the rules – that one is sure to be broken.

Same children with the same teacher all day, no switching groups or teachers.  I know parents who have been homeschooling their kids since March have not had a break so I don’t want to complain, but SERIOUSLY? In New York, our schools have special subject areas with teachers who are trained experts in their fields: Music, Art, Physical Education, and Library.  In fact I do believe I have a contract that states I get to have time for lunch without my students.  I think that rule will need some modifications.

Tape on sidewalks and walls to assure kids stay 6ft apart.  Gee, if I only knew that tape on the walls would have avoided all those kids bumping into each other, pushing, hitting, falling down and tripping friends when they lose their shoes, I would have done that years ago.

Of course the list ends with suggestions for possible daily health and temperature checks, and cleaning, disinfecting and hand washing throughout the day.  For years we were forced to sit through OSHA seminars and told never to bring anything strong like bleach or other cleaners to school, only use the organic school certified soaps.  Maybe those days are over.

The crux of it all is that no matter what we do, we need to be ready to jump back to virtual on line learning if another out break happens.  That is what happened this week in South Korea.  66 schools closed 2 hours after schools reopened because 2 students tested positive for COVID-19.

Sweden has kept its schools for under-16s open throughout the coronavirus outbreak.  They felt the virus did not affect young children the same as older people and that parents needed to go to work.  In Sweden, they have implemented more handwashing and outdoor activities for students.  Sick staff and students are to stay home and social distancing is being practiced.

Well, when I decide to spend time worrying about this my level headed husband tells me not to bother myself with worry that I can’t do anything about.  Worrying doesn’t do any good.  He suggests I only worry about things I can control, like if the plants need water or the dog needs to go out.  I know that.  Last week that was the topic of my blog post: Week 9 – What can we control? But sometimes I do get carried away, especially over the future of kids in school.

My son isn’t as worried for the kids.  He thinks they will adapt. It will seem normal to them, like wearing shoes to school.  Maybe he is right? Here are some ways to help kids feel more comfortable wearing masks, like making them together or decorating them.  https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/coronavirus-masks.html

 

Well, I have worried enough for today. I spent some time searching on line for prettier masks to wear, since I will most likely be wearing them to work in the fall.  Many will not be available until July or August so I am going to order some soon.

It is the beginning of Memorial Day weekend and right now my husband is attaching our bikes to his car so we can head to the state park for a bike ride.  I hope they don’t close it before we get there.  I have heard that they want to keep the parks open to 50% capacity.  I’ll bring my mask as well.  I can’t imagine riding my bike with a mask on, but just in case.

Hope everyone enjoys the weekend – the weather is getting warmer here in New York and I am ready to spend some time outside this weekend.

Categories: Moving ForwardTags: , , , , , , , , , ,

12 comments

  1. that’s ridiculous about the rules for the children – I just can NOT see how the kindergarten will be able to enforce it ALL…

    or even want to…I suspect most teachers including yourself took this career path, because you would help the young people interact with one another, a great skill to have in the future.

    and this is the crucial time of their lives, understanding about “sharing” and “learning by using everyday tools” but with less of the thought they need to be able to add up to a 100 or write a whole paragraph clearly (well that’s my take, on the matter)

    I think your authorities need to “rethink” this all…even though it’s hard to do online for this age group – at least they within the family structure that probably is far more caring than “wearing a mask, sitting at a desk, being forced not sit near their best friends” etc.

    Learning places reopened in New Zealand a week or so back, with a lot of restrictions and rules, but I know masks are not compulsory, because best course advised by health dept here is sanitizing and hand washing with well dried hands…
    And the learners are not restricted like in “must stay apart” rather they are seen as a “bubble of them all” … of course if anyone is unwell, must stay home.

    Catherine, who is much older, actually classed as vulnerable but under the new level I can go out and about…yesterday I got my hair cut, I feel a lot more normal/personally.

    • I can’t wait to get a hair cut. Hopefully these guidelines may relax a bit by September. Sick people stay home. Good start. Hope it works for New Zealand. Thanks for reading.

      • Our City’s School system came out with very similar scenarios to these rules. It saddens me that things will be different moving forward, but I am very encouraged that the possibility of having kids return to school is in the future. Hopefully things will continue to improve as we go.

      • Yes. I do hope kids get to go back to school in the fall and that they will be safe. It just may take some time to go back to normal.

  2. Its unfortunate that schools will reopen this way but its better to be cautious. Hopefully together we can eliminate COVID-19 someday and get things back to a better normal.

    • Yes – I think we all have to put in another concerted effort, even though it has become so nice to ease up a bit here. Thanks for reading.

  3. I recently published a post similar to this discussing what parents need to be aware of for Back to School. I’m in Georgia and it seems we’ll have very similar school realities. Stay safe.

  4. I believe that the kids are going to rise to the challenge. I overheard two (unmasked) preschoolers in Target tell their mother they needed masks for school. This gave me hope as an elementary teacher myself! Whatever this school will bring, it will be a very different experience.

    • I agree. The children are resilient and the first to follow the rules (and make sure the others do as well). Love that point. Good luck to you this year.

  5. Great thoughts! I have to agree with your son, I think kids will start to accept this as the new normal, but that’s the part that scares me! It’s not normal for kids to distance and not share! I don’t see how that will happen in a Kindergarten class (I’ve been a Kinder and gr1 teacher for years). It also affects their social and emotional learning. A huge part of Kindergarten (in Canada) is social and emotional learning – sharing, cooperating, learning to take turns – but how are they going to do that with the new rules?

    • Yes. I agree. The social and emotional learning in kindergarten is so important and I can’t see how we can safely implement that.

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