We are facing a back to unusual school. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is the human species can adapt. That is good since children, teachers and parents are not the only ones who need to Be Alert this year.
Everyone in the community needs to adapt to this new normal. School this September will be different. Safety is key. For that reason, we respect some parents will decide to keep their children learning remotely from home for now.
Whatever you decide, we know you can do it. We have seen you social distance, wear a face covering and, well, basically change your entire life for the past few months. Our kids have also adapted to new routines, perhaps better than us. But we also know that may have slowed their academic achievements and social skills development.
What is coming next is going to be tough. There will be tests. Parents will juggle. Teachers will be planning and grading. Students will be studying. We know tests are essential to learning. The only thing which seems certain is that there will be new kinds of tests in this back to unusual school. Not just for students, for all of us.
School Traffic Safety Signals
Manitoba just introduced this colour-coded #RestartMB Pandemic Response System.
Operating much like traffic lights: green, yellow, orange and red. Colouring signals when we need to stop, go, move with degrees of caution. Because they are familiar and simple to understand any changes that may happen, we think this is a useful tool.
Using this system allows each community to know what the pandemic traffic is like, helping us all navigate intersections as more people circulate in our communities.
Unusual School Lessons
Learning the new rules is the first lesson if they are heading back to unusual school, even before you or your child sets foot in one. Depending on the situation in your province and community. Spacing out desks is key in the classroom. Hand hygiene is something we learned to do really well this spring, but young children might need a refresher hand washing course after being away from school since March.
Unusual too is that face coverings are required inside, including most schools and for most grades. Hallways literally have traffic signs. Learning virtually will continue for some subjects, alternating with other students getting lessons in class. Weather permitting, there may be more ‘outdoor ed’ if teachers can take the learning outside.
From K-12 it will be very unusual school. Attendance taking is key for contact tracing. Absentees will be praised because it is safest to stay home if they are sick. Teachers, staff and parents will be on high alert, since things can change quickly, and this year children might have some extra angst.
We all know much learning happens outside the classroom. But this will be limited. Most likely absent for now are gym, band and after school clubs and teams. Restrictions on recess, lockers and lunchtime or after school hanging out will make this very unsocial unusual school indeed.
Unusual School Tests
Going hand in hand with school is tests. This unusual school year will involve a whole new set of tests, not only for students, but also for teachers, staff and parents. Testing to ensure classroom setup is safe. Testing to provide assurance that those circulating in the halls are healthy.
Testing normally measures a student’s understanding of the curriculum. Testing this year is the way to know if returning to unusual school will not spread the coronavirus to others in the school or the broader community.
We all hope schools pass these critical tests with flying colours. And, if test results indicate there is a problem, the real test will be how quickly and effectively we deal with it. The whole community depends on this.
Unusual School Traffic Alert
As if this unusual school year isn’t trying enough. We continue to urge drivers to Be Alert, especially around school zones. Road safety is still important too. Those speed enforcement cameras we warned you about are now issuing tickets. Moving vehicles and small kids do not mix well.
Reopening schools means there will be even more kids traveling on foot, by bike or scooter on our streets every day. Routines may switch every other day or week. Allowing for safe distancing, means there will be even more school buses back on the road doing their daily double routes.
Commuting by car may be the choice more often than transit for schoolteachers and staff getting to work. School re-opening will allow some parents of school age kids to begin to actually get work done if their still working from home. And, if they work outside their home, many parents will also opt to walk, drive or bike to work.
Driving kids to school may happen even more than before out of parents’ concerns for safety. All of these new and unusual back-to-school and work routines may actually add to traffic congestion around school zones.
Be Alert safety products for an usual school year
Traveling safely back to unusual school still requires all road users to Be Alert. Maybe more than ever, we encourage parents to help young children know the safest routes to school. Teach them how to cross busy streets with the help of zebra crossings or crossing guards. If you do any back-to-school shopping, make your children more visible to motorists with reflective patches, zipper pulls or trims to attach to their clothing, bikes and scooters.
We partner with all types of companies and organizations to communicate about their brand. If you are a school administrator, teacher, parent volunteer, we can help customize your message, get in touch. Communicating new health and safety measures is key to making schools not only re-open, but continue your vital education mission.