School Business Affairs June 2020

32 JUNE 2020 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS One district leader’s predictions about education after the pandemic. HowWill Schools Look After COVID-19? By Howard C. Carlson, Ed.D. perspective A s superintendents and school leaders we need to begin asking the question: How will schools look when we reopen? Of course, no one knows at this stage and there are no models to follow. Clearly, we will be guided by health experts, govern- ment leaders, and data, but the challenge will be the competing realities of student safety v. school budgets. Why? Because to follow many of the most promising prac- tices, such as limiting class sizes so students sit 6’ apart, we will need additional teachers and facilities—two resources that will be difficult to procure. So, although we don’t know how school will look when we reopen, I do believe there are some predictions we can count on and others upon which we can speculate or hope for as we move forward. Let’s look at a few of these ideas today as we ponder this important issue. What can we predict: Custodial Practices: We will be called upon to disinfect schools more frequently, more deeply, and in new ways. “Sharing” of class materials will be limited and we will be buying disinfecting wipes for classrooms at unprecedented levels. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): It is likely that some staff members will want to wear PPE in the classroom and that some students will too. Protocols and Procedures: Student and staff handbooks will change to reflect new rules related to interacting with others whether in the classroom, hallway, on the athletic field, in the commons area, or on the playground. Distancing protocols, at some level, will become the norm. What we can speculate: Parent/Student Reactions: We will see a range of parent/student reactions. Some parents will choose to keep their child in an online environment and some students will choose this option too. Parents will do so for virus protection and students, mostly older, will find they like the flexibility of the online environment. We can also expect that we will have some parents who will push for new proto- cols and procedures once schools reopen. If we can get ahead of this issue, we can main- tain a proactive rather than reactive stance. Class Size Reduction: Expect parents and some health experts to call for reduced class sizes and social distancing within the classroom. We are already seeing this occur in Denmark and it will be a push here too. As mentioned in the opening paragraphs this is largely a budget/legislative issue as class size reduction means more teachers and more classrooms. Vendor Solutions: Be prepared for ven- dors to inundate schools and districts with new and novel ways to address virus protec- tion and cleaning. Some of their methods and devices will be innovative and some will be a rehash of something currently in exis- tence. Schools and districts should vet solu- tions through health experts prior to making purchases. What we can hope for moving forward: Teacher/Parent Communication: Many have been amazed at how teach- ers and parents have been willing to work together seamlessly during this tough time, especially at the high school level. Teacher/ parent communication at the upper grade levels has always been a challenge. Let’s SEVENTYFOUR/STOCK.ADOBE.COM