It’s been over 5 months since the closure of schools globally, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During these periods, while some schools jumped on virtual learning platforms to ensure continuous learning for children, many others found creative mid and low-tech solutions to engage children, some brave educators engaged in (tiny cluster) physical teaching for children living in marginalised communities. Undoubtedly, a lot more children may have been cut out and unable to access any form of continuous learning since the closure of schools.
While it is no longer news globally that, there have been some arguments and anticipation around schools reopening; a lot of concerns and uncertainties around this topic, particularly for the safety of all have been raised too. However, according to UNESCO, all education systems must prepare for schools to re-open when the time comes, regardless of a country’s capacity to provide appropriate continued access to learning during crises and school closures. You may download the IIEP-UNESCO’s Covid-19 brief that summarises some essential careful planning tips toward the reopening of schools for education planners and decision-makers here.
It is important that we look out for the teachers, their safety and ensure that we give them the tools and support required when schools reopen, so they are able to continue guiding the next generations of children toward learning.
So, here are a few tips we have put together in no particular order to help schools, education support staff and teachers:
|No matter the size of your school, do ensure that teachers’ voices are heard in policy and planning. Dialogue is essential to develop strategies for school reopening at all levels – national, district and schools. This conversation should include all parties involved – parents, members of staff and learners.
|The safety and well-being of learners and school staff are of paramount concern, as schools reopen. So, there is a need to guarantee that the school environment is safe for the whole school community, not just the learners. Despite the exceptional circumstances, a safe and healthy working condition in schools is fundamental to decent work and critical for ensuring teachers and education support staff are motivated and effective during and after the pandemic. This will include ensuring sick leave is granted when they need it.
|Recognise the importance of teachers’ psychological, social and emotional well-being. Find ways to detect easily and address possible stress and trauma that may cause burnouts, absenteeism, leaving their jobs or long-term harm to their overall well-being.
Please look out for the continuation of this article in your inbox later this week. We’ll be happy to learn from you too – so kindly share ways or tips you think can help schools, teachers and education planners prepare towards a possible reopening of schools with us at enquiries@meadowhallconsult.