Setting Up School spaces
As pupils resume school children will be experiencing a wide range of emotions of in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, such as anxiety, stress or low mood. Children in care may be especially Vulnerable.
Adding to children’s unsettlement is the change in the school routine, physical arrangement including classroom setup whilst others may simply not want to be back in school . As such children will need time and help in getting used to the new spaces. Teachers and school authorities can do the following to help ease children back into School.
- Encourage children to talk about what they enjoyed doing at home as this can be used to plan for teaching and learning.
- Ask parents to bring photographs of what the children they did at home or pictures of pets, this should be kept within reach of children to create a familiar environment.
- Pictures should be taken of all areas of the environment before any changes are made, this can be used as reference when the subject arises.
- Though physical and close contact may be difficult teachers should make up by giving children more time for communicating verbally and nonverbally.
- Children should also be given the opportunity to explore their new environment and also get uses to their new groups.
- Child protection and safeguarding policies must be revisited and updated at the resumption of school. The policies must reflect the current happenings, how it may have affected children during and post Covid-19 and what can be done to support vulnerable children.
- Safeguarding leads should take time to monitor and observe children for any evidence of abuse or harm as they return to school after Covid-19 lockdown.
- Safeguarding leads must assist and support teachers in the settling of children especially vulnerable children or those children that have a history with social services.
- Safeguarding leads must also continue communication with other external agencies i.e. community nurses, social services and early help who may have been involved with the children during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Schools should continue to encourage physical activities in accordance with healthy and safety guidance.
- Children should be kept in their groups consistently during physical activities and equipment used must be cleaned and disinfected before use by other groups.
- Physical activities should be encouraged outside rather than indoors. Where activities done indoors, physical activities should in large spaces with adequate ventilation.
- External sport facilitators and/or facilities should be used in line with government guidance and public health advice for use of and travel to and from those facilities.
Musical instruments and activities:
Musical activities and instruments such as singing, chanting, playing instruments such as wind or brass are additional risk to the transmission of coronavirus and as such additional safety measures must be employed to limit risk of infection.
- During these activities, the rules of social distancing must be strictly adhered to and the number of people especially in enclosed spaces must be a maximum of 15.
- In activities like singing and orchestra it is advisable that children are positioned side by side or back to back avoiding physical contact and sharing of instrument.
- Outdoors should be used where possible and instruments must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after each use.
Remote learning may become essential for the reasons
- Groups or a small groups of pupils needing to isolate.
- Community lockdown requiring the school premises to be closed.
What is Expected of the School:
- To provide high quality remote learning educational systems to be consistently used within the school.
- Effective training for staff in the use of remote learning resources.
- Remote learning system must have efficient online tools for monitoring, assessing and collecting feedbacks of children’s performance.
- Provide pupils who have little or no access to online tools with printed recourses such as work -books and text- books.
- The quality of remote learning should be consistent with the education that children would have otherwise received in the physical school.
- Teachers should be given feedbacks on their delivery of online education so that any gaps may be highlighted and bridged.
- Engage the assistance of parents/careers in remote learning especially those with younger children or/and children with special needs.
Schools Expectation to Pupils
- Setting meaningful assignments and projects for pupils to ensure that the standard of learning is not compromised.
- Curriculum should be well planed , balanced and consistence across all boards of education.
- Delivery of remote learning should be frequent, precise and with clear explanations especially when teachers are introducing new content. Theses can be delivered with additional tools such as interactive videos and games.
- Checking children’s progress by setting challenging but achievable task which can be online, or project based.
- Plan a programme that is of equivalent length to the core teaching pupils would receive in school, ideally including daily contact with teachers.
Schools will have to be intentional about incorporating disease control and prevention in their academic curriculum and extra-curricular activities.
When delivering health education information to children, it must be age appropriate. The conversation should include the symptoms, ways of transmission and how to prevent transmission.
General Conversations with Students:
- It’s ok to be scared, worried and angry but talk to someone you trust about the emotions you may be feeling.
- Protect yourself and others by washing your hands regularly, sneeze/cough into tissues, do not spit, remember not to touch your face and do not share personal items.
- Be a leader and share all your knowledge regarding prevention and control of coronavirus with friends and family.
- Do not make fun or stigmatize anyone that is sick.
- Tell your parents and caregivers if you feel sick.
Age Specific Health Education
- Focus on good health behaviors: washing hand under running water regularly for 20 seconds, coughing and sneezing into elbow or tissues.
- Using age appropriate television and video contents, stories and interactive activities.
- Develop a way to monitor hand washing and a reward for regular hand washing/sanitizing.
- Using of props and puppets to demonstrate and washing and other good hygiene practices.
- Create an environment that enables children practice social distancing e.g. use of tapes and posters, games such as stretching their hands in order to know how much distance to keep from their friends/ other individuals.
- Answer children question in a simple, clear and precise manner.
- Encourage children to communicate their feeling with you and their peers.
- Affirm to the children that its ok to be sad, anxious and worried as these are normal reactions.
- At every opportunity reinforce good health behavior that can help in the prevention and control of infectious diseases.
- Explain to the children the measures that can be adopted to prevent and control the spread of infection.
- Encourage them to be ambassadors of good health behavior in their community.
- Explain and foster the notion of social distancing and good hygiene, especially hand hygiene
- Avert stigma by encouraging students to express their feelings about the circumstances.
- Raise students’ agency and encourage them to promote facts about public health via creating posters/pamphlets.
- Integrate relevant health education into academia e.g. learn about the virus and how it is spread during Science classes or discuss the history of pandemics and the development of policies regarding public health in Social studies.
Talking to Children about Coronavirus
Conversations can be along these lines:
- What is Covid-19
- What can I do to prevent having Covid-19
- What happens if I get sick with Covid-19
- Take your time to answer children’s questions honestly.
- Create a tranquil environment to have this conversation so as not to scare the children.
- Reassure the children that they are in a safe and are in safe place.
- Teachers can also further this conversation by using age appropriate television and video contents, stories and interactive activities.
- Teach children everyday actions required for controlling the spread of coronavirus. Children must be constantly reminded to wash their hands and practice respiratory hygiene at every opportunity.
Talking to Children about Death
Every child is different and will cope with bereavement of family members or someone close to them differently. Teachers can play an important role in supporting the child.
- Have open and honest conversations about death.
- When talking about death, age appropriate word should be used such as ‘passed away or gone to sleep’.
- Sentences used must be clear, simple and precise.
- Acknowledge their concerns.
- Patiently listen to the child and console them when necessary. (Deliberately set out time)
- Encourage the child to express he or herself as best as they can and in the way they know how (Verbally or nonverbally).
- Provide a sense of normality as best as possible.
- Children may be scared so it is essential to assure the child that he or she is safe.
- Activities, pictures, props and stories can help children work through their emotions.
(Source: Child Bereavement UK 2020)
Useful book: Someone I know Has Died by Trish Phillips
Covid-19 Facts NOT Fears – For Children
As teachers, the last thing we want to do is instill fear in our students.
Below are some videos, appropriate for students of all ages that will educate them regarding how to prevent the spreading of coronavirus in a lighthearted but concise manner.