District and campus leaders who are planning for when campuses reopen are facing unprecedented challenges. All the student routines we established to create an orderly environment that maximized learning time will need to be adjusted in order to maintain social distancing and other health safety measures.
Planning will be essential to balance the need to protect the health of students and staff with the task of educating our students. The first thing to consider is how to maximize the safety of students and staff. After a deep pre-opening cleaning, leaders must consider the following things.
In order to maintain social distancing in classrooms and common areas, leaders will need to adjust how they use their campus space. In addition to using hallways, libraries, and unused spaces within the building for instruction, districts might explore partnering with churches, higher education institutions, or other organizations that have vacant space or shifting students to campuses with lower enrollment.
As student to teacher ratios change to accommodate appropriate social distancing requirements, the next consideration is if adequate staff is available to provide instruction. Districts might consider how to use paraprofessionals, substitutes, and elective and office staff as support. They might also explore partnering with an institution of higher education to engage their education students as support staff and interventionists.
Social distancing must be maintained on busses, as well as in the school. Looking at strategic ways to stagger start times in order to maximize the use of busses may help maximize the current level of available busses. Partnering with local public or private transportation services may also help get students to school with the least disruption.
Let us help you develop and implement comprehensive student routines. Email Robin Southall for more information about Student Culture Routines!
How to Develop Routines
As students board busses and enter the school building, district and campus leaders must have clear routines for all aspects of school operations. This includes how students enter the building, move between classrooms, use the restroom and cafeteria, and even exit the building. Routines for visitors and dealing with deliveries and pick-ups will also be important.
These expectations for not only students, but staff, will need to be clearly explained. Here are some steps to help guide you:
1. Develop clear expectations for student arrival by outlining what students and staff should do.
2. Roll these expectations out to staff so they understand their responsibilities and how to teach the students what to do. This may include you modeling the expectations and having your staff role-play.
3. Plan for when and how to introduce these expectations to students.
4. Create a means of monitoring whether the routines are being implemented with fidelity. How will staff be reminded of their roles? How will students be redirected?
5. Develop benchmarks for plan performance. What data will tell you the plan is working? How will you share success along the way? How will you revise your plan if it is not working?
Communicate the Plan
Finally, clearly communicate how your district and campus plans to deal with all of these issues. Utilize email, phone calls, your website, social media, etc. to get the message out about how you are keeping students and faculty safe. This will begin to reassure staff, families, students, and the community while building trust and transparency in the process.
There is a lot of work to be done, but we can help! Through Student Culture Routines, a component of Texas Instructional Leadership, we can help you develop, implement, and monitor clear routines for whatever the new school year brings.
Note that Education Service Centers are non-regulatory agencies and have no authority over district and campus scheduling and closures.