Innovations- Returning to School During COVID-19

Goals

To locate innovative ways in the US or global that schools and governments are returning to school during the COVID-19 crisis. The research will include descriptions of the approach, partnerships involved, and any scientific research or technology used in these approaches.

Early Findings

In the US, guidelines are dictating a gradual return to school with many changes to what is considered the norm.

CDC Guidelines

  • CDC guidelines for safety indicate that physical distance must be maintained. Some schools are debating a staggered schedule, with time to deep clean.
  • Activities that involve large groups, such as lunch, assemblies, and recess, might have to be reformed.
  • Once returning, it is advised to provide social assistance so the children can adapt to the stressors of their new environment.
  • Contingency plans must be in place in case of an outbreak to immediately shut down the school that is affected.

Innovative Approaches

Taiwan

  • As children arrive at school, temperatures are taken, and hands along with soles of shoes are sanitized with disenfectant before they may enter the building.
  • Students wear face masks supplied by the government, and they receive regular reminders to wash their hands.
  • Each class has a student designated as the “chief disinfectant officer” who applies disinfectant from a spray bottle to surfaces that need it.
  • The school also uses folding dividers to keep students separated from each other’s air space during lunch.
  • Taiwanese teachers are advised to handle students’ waste carefully and to watch for signs that students might have the virus, such as excessive tiredness or a loss of appetite. If any school experiences two or more COVID-19 infections, it’s immediately closed again for 14 days.

Denmark

  • Children are split into smaller groups and wash their hands immediately upon arrival and at least every two hours. In addition, contact surfaces like sinks, toilet seats, and door handles are disinfected twice a day.
  • Schools are also printing maps that mark entrance and exit routes to make sure students aren’t crowded together, and they’re making sure that children remain outside as much as possible.
  • At the Hendriksholm School in Rodovre, just outside Copenhagen, students now sit at desks spaced six feet apart. The school sent a detailed diagram to parents outlining staggered arrival times, routes, breaks, and lunch times.

Botswana

  • Young 1ove is a youth-driven NGO in Botswana that identifies, adapts, and scales evidence-based health and education initiatives, such as the Zones and Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) programs. When the government closed schools, Young 1ove rapidly mobilized to collect 10,000 students’ mobile numbers to provide text-message based instruction, and established hotlines to answer questions from parents and students.

Tanzania

  • CAMFED, is a nongovernmental organization that supports marginalized girls to complete secondary school and empowers them to become independent women through leadership training and membership in the CAMFED Association. A key component is once they graduate they become learner guides for 18 months.
  • Learner Guides have expanded their roles to meet these challenges during the pandemic, working with families in their communities, sharing official World Health Organization and government guidance, and improvising learning opportunities for students while schools remain closed. When schools eventually reopen, Learner Guides will play a critical role in ensuring girls who are most vulnerable to child marriage and dropout return to their classrooms.

Results of Initial Research

  • In this initial hour, several examples of innovations for returning were located. These innovations are not necessarily technology based or based in any other research than what is given to them by their governmental agencies. This is most likely due to how quickly the pandemic occurred, there simply was not time for great innovation. The goal was to get the children back to school.
  • The true innovation will most likely come in the form of predictions for what the new school year will look like and would benefit from research.

Proposed next steps:

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