We asked our local school management team – “based on common trends you are seeing in the marketplace and your experiences working with superintendents, principals, faculty, staff, school nurses, and emergency response teams, what is your advice for school systems planning to reopen?” We consolidated their answers into five key points that we wish to share:
Keep Your Plan Simple
With all the changing variables in the world, preparing your reopening plan can be very challenging. Try your best to keep it straightforward, but comprehensive. Establish PPE and sanitizing needs for all faculty and students, and create room-by-room plan for social distancing guidelines. Right there you are off to a solid start! Once you establish that base strategy, you can now dive into your own batch of variable factors for specific environments within your school building and system. Also be sure to consider how best to explain and remind students, their families, and faculty of all new policies.
Communicate & Collaborate
From our school management team: “There are different departments within school systems that have budgets for emergency response product, but we are seeing that many of these groups are not communicating with each other, and in other cases they do not even know each other. A building walkthrough, whether it be in person or virtual, is the best way surface the goals of all members of the safe return to school committee. We all have a common goal – keep our students and faculty safe.”
Ask for Samples
The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the sourcing of PPE. There are many new companies, websites, and sources where you can find these products, which can lead to questions around quality – the most important factor in keeping your students and faculty safe. Asking for a sample will prevent lost time and money from purchasing poor-quality product, and ensure each member of your safe return to school committee is satisfied with the value of goods procured.
Start with Entrances & Exits
When working on your reopening plan it’s easy to focus heavily on the interior of the building, but what will your entrances look like during the rush of students and faculty arriving to school? How many individuals will be stationed at entrances to do check-ins, and how many entrances will you have open? Do you have a plan for directing traffic and how students will line up? Do you need additional supplies such as tented areas when weather is inclement or signage? There are a lot of moving parts to getting students and staff in and out of the building safely – make sure to prepare for as many potential scenarios as possible.
Keep an Eye Out for Local & State Regulations
Dedicate one person to sweep for “safe return to work” information and guidelines published from the CDC right down to building management companies. There is a ton of great information out there, and things are changing every day. This will help you stay up-to-date on any changing policies and not miss out on any grants or relief funding your district could be eligible for.
We are here to help you navigate the way toward reopening in the safest way possible. Check out our return to school checklist for more tips.