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How Will Schools Operate Post-Pandemic?
May 20, 2020 - Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »
When institutional and commercial facilities started shutting down and curtailing operations to control the spread of the coronavirus, little was clear about the way facilities would have to change their operations once they could reopen for limited or full operation. Now that time has passed, managers and their staffs have begun to understand the ultimate impact on facilities and their activities.
In the case of the nation’s K-12 schools, some of the most heavily impacted areas have become clear, according to National Public Radio.
Hygiene. How do you make sure there's a plan to make sure the people walking in are not spreading anything? Ideally, this is accomplished by widespread and frequent testing for the coronavirus, says Michael Mulgrew, the head of the New York City teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers. But Mulgrew also points to the safety measures being taken right now at the city's 100 regional enrichment centers that provide child care for front-line workers. These include wearing masks, temperature checks, hand-washing, frequent sanitization and social distancing rules enforced even for very small children.
Smaller classes. In an attempt to balance safety with the impact on families and the economy, experts recommend reducing social contact by putting children in the smallest groups possible. Based on the typical size of a classroom in New York City, 12 would be the most children you could accommodate while maintaining social distancing.
New calendars. To make up for the learning lost while schools are closed, there have been suggestions of starting school sooner, or continuing through next summer, or both. "This situation is going to be like what is often called the summer slide, but on steroids," Virginia's superintendent of public instruction, James Lane, told NPR. "I think there will be opportunities for us to discuss different ways to approach calendars."
No large groups. No assemblies, sports games or parent-teacher conferences. Students can't mix in large groups, and parents probably won't be allowed in school buildings either.
Dan Hounsell is editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions.