As educators and parents alike are actively working to quickly bridge the gaps and meet new safety requirements before the start of the fall semester, they have come up with an array of strategies to ensure all students receive a fair shot at success. We have listed a few of them below:
1. Offer support to families in teaching children
A national survey by the advocacy group ParentsTogether showed that even in many low-income families, where access to technology is often a barrier to successful home learning, , parents are also struggling to fill the role of teacher.. These families were more likely to name issues such as "school resources are too complicated" or "it's hard to get my child to focus" than they were to cite a lack of equipment.
Solution: Teachers and districts take a more active role in encouraging and guiding parent engagement. One non-profit group, originally known for offering hour-long workshops to coach parents on how to implement techniques to increase a child’s reading skill, now offers an app to do the same.
2. Give teens one-on-one support
Much of the focus of schooling during the pandemic has been focused on the nation’s younger students. But in fact, teens are the age group with the biggest risk of falling behind. A survey conducted in April revealed that 4 in 10 teens were not logging onto online classes at all. That's a whopping 40%!
Solution: This is where dedicated teachers and school officials are needed more than ever. South Fort Myers High School in Fort Myers, Florida offered a pre-pandemic program where at-risk kids were encouraged to lean on an adult in the school building through a program referred to as BARR. The teacher or staff member participating in the BARR program would check in with the teen several times a week, fostering genuine support for the student. he staff members conduct regular weekly check-ins with their student via zoom, phone, or Google Classroom.
3. Create Small Groups or Pods for young children
Many parents and educators worry about the practicality of keeping young children separated throughout the day. Isolating children during lunch and recess is not only unfeasible due to limited space within schools, but also deprives them of the social aspect of schooling that we know is so important to them.
Solution: A few childcare centers stayed open during the pandemic as a means of caring for the children of essential workers. YMCA sites, remained open and implemented a series of protocols to ensure the safety of staff and children. One of these measures was the use of “pods” New York YMCAs created pods with no more than 9 children for each adult. These pods do not mix, but children were still able to socialize with children within their designated pod.
4. Incorporate ways to make staying safe and healthy “fun.”
Finally, incorporate ways to make staying safe and healthy “fun.” At the end of every day, it is important to realize that these students are still just kids. The YMCA centers taught children to thoroughly scrub their hands, by placing a stamp or washable marker doodle on their hand and having them scrub it off before starting activities. This made washing their hands more of an activity than a chore.
Parents, the best way to protect your child’s health is to familiarize yourself with your county’s proposed safety guidelines, as well as those of your specific school district. If you feel that more should be done, you have a right to contact your superintendent’s office and offer suggestions.
Here is a list of guidelines by county:
Los Angeles County
Orange County: A Guide to Safely Reopening Schools in the Covid-19 Era
San Bernardino County
If you feel your child is not receiving the services and benefits they were promised by your district, the attorneys at Holloway and Kimberlin, LLP are always available for a free consultation.