As cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant, a highly contagious strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, continually rise, school administrators face the challenge of keeping schools safely open while providing instruction to address learning gaps and increase achievement levels.
Beyond the educational field, people may view COVID safety as a simple process. Some may question, “Why can’t we just return to the normalcy in the past?” However, school leaders must consider many variables that affect the entire school community.
This year of unprecedented challenges is one I can only describe as a “year of learning for all.” We’ve never before experienced such an unusual situation in our lifetime–and as we endeavor through this process, we’re all still learning. Along the way, I hope that we collect essential information that will enable us to make informed decisions designed to support the educational process and the school community as a whole.
Ensuring School Safety: CDC’s Recommendations
According to Robin Lake, Director of the Center for Reinventing Public Education, schools will face difficulties staying open this fall. As the number of COVID-19 Delta variant cases climb, administrators must remain vigilant while curbing the virus’s spread in schools.
Many K-12 schools are taking precautions by implementing CDC recommendations for COVID-19 prevention such as:
- Social distancing
- Usage of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Extensive cleanings
- Conducting daily screenings
- Staggering schedules and hallway traffic
- Addressing ventilation concerns
“Back to the Future” of Virtual Education
If administrators deem the school environment unsafe, they may consider implementing contingency plans, such as returning to entirely virtual or hybrid instruction. Although this is an unpopular decision with most parents and students, some believe that it’s the best way to educate students while containing the virus. While making these decisions, school officials must consider the following four points:
- Flexibility Is Key!
- Be flexible in your mindset.
- If the need to cancel in-person classes arises, prepare yourself to pivot to virtual or hybrid instruction.
- Develop an instructional plan for absent students and staff.
- Always Be Wary & Informed
- Speak Up–And Often!
- Communicate frequently with staff, parents, and upper administration.
- Resolve questions and concerns as immediately as possible.
- Follow the Rules
- Ensure that staff and students adhere to all protocols.
- Adhere to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
- Be consistent while implementing processes and instruction.
While schools work through the painstaking process of shielding everyone’s safety, they’re also responsible for developing an effective and consistent instructional program. Inevitably, many students face achievement gaps caused by various factors corresponding with the COVID-19 crisis.
What is “Long COVID” and what does it mean for schools? Find out here.
Ann Marie Geissel, M.Ed., ABD
Therapy Source National Special Education Director
Ann Marie has 30+ years of special education experience, as a teacher, principal, special education supervisor, and special education director within urban, suburban school districts and charter schools. Her background and qualifications make her well-positioned to assist Therapy Source’s education clients with compliance monitoring and daily operation. Ann Marie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education from LaSalle University, and a Master of Education in Special Education from Arcadia University. Additionally, she has been certified as a principal and special education advisor – and possesses a Letter of Eligibility for Superintendent – through Temple University’s and Widener University’s Doctoral Programs in Educational Administration.