When the Department of Education speaks of the “opening of the School Year,” it does not refer to the actual physical return of students and teachers to school. An August opening simply means the commencement of alternative delivery modes. The Remote Learning Center Education of School of Tomorrow® Philippines makes this possible. But one day, students will really “go back to school” and be in our Learning Centers.
The goal of this article is to provide guidance for when that time comes – the real back-to-school. We will not return to normal but to a “new normal.” Strict social distancing is expected to be practiced in schools. We need to setup a system by which we can ensure the protection of our students and staff. We also have to do this to protect our schools from complaints and legal problems for failing to put into motion all possible social distancing measures.
The basic protective methods:
- The wearing of face masks.
While schools may be required to be ready to provide face masks, it will be the new normal that individuals wear their own face masks when they leave home. So, this should be required for both school staff, students, and parents. However, be ready with extras in case they are needed.
- Use non-contact thermometer scanners to filter the entry of individuals to the school.
It is important, though, that we get reliable no-touch thermometers because there have been reports of defective and/or inaccurate units.
- Provide soap in wash areas.
Train students to regularly wash their hands. Provide wash areas and make sure that an adequate water supply is available.
- Install alcohol or sanitizer dispensers in strategic areas.
Students, especially younger ones, must be trained and monitored in how to use alcohol and sanitizers. Hand sanitizers recommended to protect against COVID-19 must be alcohol-based and therefore can be flammable. Do not install and/or use these in Home Economics cooking areas.
- Conduct regular disinfection and sanitation activities at school.
Maintaining distance between individuals.
The blessing of student offices.
- SOT®’s student offices provide an easy “separation” of individuals from each other. What some officials may have instructed to be removed may become one of the new normals in schools – the dividers.
- With the requirement of at least one to two-meter distances, we may need to alternate student attendance so that there will always be a vacant office between students.
- Learning Centers may be divided into a “M-W-F and T-Th-S” arrangement so that students go to school every other day. Another option is a “morning and afternoon shift” format. How home activities will be done has to be decided by the administration.
- Supervisors and Monitors, in responding to a raised flag, must maintain a reasonable distance from the student – like standing in the vacant office in between students. It may mean asking the student to approach the teacher in an area while maintaining distance for recitations (such as Scripture Memory for the Month).
- A queueing system in the Scoring Station must be implemented. Consider adding areas for scoring that will allow for proper distancing.
Opening Pledges and Chapels
- These are integral parts of the SOT® system. Device a system in which students will be seated apart from each other. The same thing applies to conducting mini-classes.
- These activities may be done by Learning Center.
- “No shaking of hands” rule.
- PACE Test passers may be announced publicly while Congratulations Slips are given to the student in their office.
Establish strict protocols on students and personnel with a cold , cough, and/or fever.
- Instruct people to stay home and self-isolate even with minor symptoms such as cough, headache or mild fever – until they fully recover. Do not go to school.
- If a student or staff develops a fever, starts coughing and/or sneezing, or develops other symptoms, contact the parents immediately for pickup.
- If you do not have a school nurse, have a school doctor you can call for advice.