COVID continues to be a concerning threat to all schools. When the pandemic first began, it shut down schools completely, which left students and teachers alike confused and lost. However, students, teachers, and parents have gotten used to the idea of switching between remote, in-person, and hybrid classes without much struggle. Learning to adapt was a vital part of surviving the sudden transitions that COVID caused. It is time for schools to decide how and where they want to teach! Here is a guide to deciding if your school should be remote, hybrid, or in-person.
Is it Safe for Schools to Be In-Person at all Right Now?
In-person schools have been a mainstay of education for decades, so the idea of being without them is unfathomable, but is it really safe to conduct class in-person? COVID has made it necessary to question if this is still the best option. Schools are at risk day and night; what was once thought of as an inconvenience has now become a dangerous threat. Do in-person schools even make sense with COVID in the picture?
No matter what kinds of precautions and security measures a school takes (including hiring security and having all students wear protective masks in hallways), it is still impossible to fully protect an in-person school from COVID.
The amount of people in a school and the number of places for COVID to spread is too much. Schools are packed with people, both students and staff, which makes it easy for the disease to spread.
However, precautions can be implemented, and schools can try their best to protect all students, staff, and parents. Schools will need to be diligent when enforcing their COVID protocols. Masks, handwashing, distancing, and disinfecting surfaces need to be of the utmost importance. If your school is set on staying 100% in-person, the protection of students and staff should be here to stay. There are always chances of infection, but doing these actions can help lower that chance. However, there are other options now, such as remote and hybrid learning!
Can a Hybrid School Model Really Work?
Schools in COVID outbreaks have taken on one of three learning models: hybrid, remote, and in-person. While most schools are in-person, this is simply because it’s what schools know best. But with COVID concerns looming over every school decision, crisis management planning comes into play. Schools need to be more strategic than ever when making these hard decisions.
Hybrid schools are the new frontier. Some students commute every day, but most students stay at home. This means that most students attending hybrid schools live close enough to walk or bike to school every day with little risk of contagion. Students would do their work online, at home, or in the library if they have no internet access of their own. This makes parents worry less about COVID risks while allowing students to attend school virtually.
The biggest concern with the hybrid model is how it will be funded. How are schools going to get money for new technology that is needed? Also, there should be a focus on training teachers for this type of school setting. And while the parents of children who go to school in this way will be relieved, other parents may not want their children going to a hybrid school and could pull them out for this reason.
Hybrid schools work best when the majority of students live close enough to walk or bike to school. School buildings would be used as shelters and temporary safe spaces for parents, students who do not have internet access, and teachers. There should also be a significant focus on training teachers for this new learning model!
Ask Yourself These Four Questions When Deciding on Your School Model
Finally, it is time to look at four questions to ask yourself when considering what school model to use! These questions are meant to help you decide when your school should go remote, hybrid, or remain in-person.
#1: How big of a COVID risk is there in your area?
This will be the number one factor when determining your school model. If you are in an area that has had more than four outbreaks, then switching to a remote or hybrid school model should be considered strongly. More outbreaks means closer calls for those infected and those close to the initial source. We know that COVID spreads quickly and is very contagious. Your school’s location should be a top priority when making this decision.
#2: Is your school crowded?
A crowded school is a breeding ground for COVID due to how easy it is to spread the virus. It’s not just your student population that can get infected, but also staff members and parents who are there at certain hours. This cannot be overstated enough: the more people there are at your school, the higher risk for COVID contamination.
#3: Does your school have an adequate number of staff members?
Schools that don’t have enough teachers and support staff available will not last long during a crisis situation. This isn’t just for in-person and hybrid schools, but remote schools as well. If there is not enough support staff to monitor students online, the school should reconsider its decision to be fully online or a hybrid model.
#4: What are your student’s needs?
Finally, consider your student’s individual needs when making this decision. Some students are not motivated at all when it comes to school, but they may thrive in an online or hybrid learning environment. Others simply cannot attend a traditional school because of their mental and physical health needs. This is why it’s so important to consider each student individually when making this decision!
When deciding on the model your school wants to implement, consider these four questions!
There are many pros and cons to each school model type. However, with COVID cases on the rise across the nation, schools must do what they can to be prepared. These different models have their strengths and weaknesses; however, remote and hybrid schools may be better in scenarios where COVID risk is high. Furthermore, staff members and students need to be properly trained before the school year begins. With training and proper infrastructure in place, schools will be ready for whatever COVID throws at them!
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