The New School ‘Normal': Masks, Social Distancing, and Temp Checks
The New York State Regents and Governor Cuomo released specific guidance for the 700 school districts in New York State this week. The one thing parents, teachers and kids can all agree on? School will never be the same in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a 23-page document, the state laid out specifics for school districts. School districts will then take these guidelines into consideration as they formulate plans to submit to the state by July 31.
Among the requirements:
- Daily temperature and wellness checks for students, staff, and visitors to schools
- Mask-wearing for students, regardless of age, is recommended all day, but can be removed for instruction if 6' social distance is maintained, and for eating - and mandatory if students cannot maintain social distancing
- Social distancing in classrooms, and on school buses. This means buses that once carried 66 students to school, and decreased classroom capacities
- The possibility of classes being taught in alternative locations, to accommodate the need for extra space
- Kids in 'cohorts' - keeping groups of kids together in order to prevent the spread of the virus
- Food may be served to kids in shifts, in classrooms. Kids must maintain social distance while eating
- Increased sanitation, hand-washing, and cleaning of buildings and facilities
You can read the full set of guidelines HERE.
Even with these guidelines in place, 'school' may look different from district to district, as each evaluates its own resources, capacity, and student needs to determine the best course of action. Many schools are preparing three iterations of plans: all in-person, all online, and a hybrid. Several alternatives are being considered in various districts, including 'split schedules' where alternating parts of the student body attend school on different days.
Parents, teachers, and staff are faced with difficult decisions. Is it safe enough to send kids? What if mom or dad - or grandma - are medically vulnerable? And what about teachers? What happens if a student or teacher tests positive for the virus?
As a parent of a school-aged child, I wonder how he'll cope with these new restrictions - but I also recognize the need for the socialization that comes from being is class with his peers.
What are your thoughts about these guidelines? Will you send your kids back in the fall?