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Schools across the country are grappling with how to reopen schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. In-person learning is critical for student social and emotional learning as well as for academic performance. The CDC says it’s safe for schools to reopen, but many parents and teachers don’t feel safe returning to the classroom.
In the Chicago area, where many schools have been closed since the virus first closed public life in March 2020, several schools have found some success in reopening because they got stakeholder buy-in on their return-to-school protocols. They made people feel safe and had the data to support it.
As we’ve seen with most COVID precautions, a re-entry protocol is most effective when everyone uses it. To best protect your school as you reopen, design your screening and entry protocols so everyone who enters your school is easily accounted for. Here are 3 key things to consider as you design your protocols for 100% adoption.
Make it Straightforward and Easy.
Your COVID protocols should be easy to implement for parents and staff alike. Automate as much as possible and maintain consistency so parents always know what to expect. This helps parents, staff, and administrators incorporate screening protocols into their daily routine.
Implement daily screening surveys that let staff (and parents on behalf of students) pre-certify each day. Keep the questions in the survey simple and consistent so participants always know what to expect. Use that certification to certify whether students and staff are safe to enter the building or need to stay home.
With Safety iPass from CrisisGo, you can issue digital badges to students or connect certification to ID badges you’re currently using to integrate health and temperature screening into a quick and simple entry process. Or you can use a dashboard integrated with your SIS to monitor access without physical or digital badges.
Make sure your screening process is adaptable enough to accommodate everyone in your school’s ecosystem. Can your tool screen and certify visitors and contractors as easily as staff? Can you reach out to parents in multiple languages? How does your process accommodate students with special needs? What about students with secondary parents? Substitute teachers?
Don’t rely on administrators, secretaries, or individual teachers to manage outliers. Design your protocols to be flexible enough to adapt to them.
If your protocol isn’t easily understood and implemented by everyone, people can slip through the cracks, causing a potential health hazard. With a tool and process that can be adopted by everyone that enters a building, teachers and administrators have more piece of mind about returning to the classroom.
Use the Data
Make data-driven decisions about the safety and well-being of your schools. Is it safe for your school to remain open? Is there evidence of community spread in your district? Making use of basic health data in your district ensures teachers and staff that you are carefully monitoring potential risks and taking their health seriously.
Some school health and safety tools, like Safety iPass, enable easy contact tracing to prevent outbreaks. And with well-organized dashboards, reporting to state and local health authorities is simple, too.
One Safety iPass customer continued to sent daily certification surveys to staff and students who were hybrid and learning/teaching from home that day. This enabled them to track and symptoms and estimate attendance for coming days.
Easy adoption fosters piece of mind
Consider these three tips as you build your action plan to get students back in school in 2021. It is possible to gain 100% adoption, which will encourage and comfort teachers, staff, and parents as they return to school.
BONUS TIP: Create a training video, like the one below, to get everyone in your school ecosystem comfortable and confident with your return-to-school COVID protocols.