So many countries of the world today are facing varying challenges due to the outbreak of COVID- 19.
The question of reopening schools is one of the priorities of many stakeholders. However, as the debate on reopening schools is in top gear, our system needs to consider these 3 questions:
1. When to reopen?
Although some schools in the developed countries are gradually opening up, while others are deliberating reopening of schools in the coming months. School system leaders/ stakeholders really need to consider factors like: the risk to public health, the impact of students to learning and thriving, the importance of schools to economic activities, the safety of the children, etc.
2. For whom?
Should school reopen fully at once? Schools can reopen selectively just like offices. This is to enable crowd control and effective social distancing. Some countries prioritized reopening of pre-school and primary schools to address the issue of child care for parents who need to return to work, while others place priorities on transitional classes (final class students).
Lastly, schools can also prioritize reopening to students with specific needs (students with disabilities who cannot learn remotely, low – income students who se parents cannot afford remote learning, children of essential workers, etc
3. With what safety and health precautions in place?
More than enforcing the use of nose mask, regular temperature checks, handwash and mounting sanitizer dispenser everywhere around the school premises (at a reasonable cost), the school system will also need to consider other more permanent changes like ‘no-touch’ bathrooms, upgraded ventilation and the rest may be unrealistic budgets for many schools. Therefore, the school system need to evaluate its health and safety measures to fit its resources and capabilities.
As schools reopen soon taking consideration of all appropriate health and safety measures, school management, teachers, parents, and other stakeholders should be ready to confront a new set of challenges, including drop-in school population due to change of school, remedial academic support, school fees saga and possibly another school lockdown in response to public health needs (did I hear God forbid…… Amen!).
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