Alyssa Ciarrocchi on Steps the Education System is Taking to Start Back at School this Fall
There has been a lot of talk about what going back to school will look like amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Given this unprecedented situation, it’s difficult to know which of the proposed solutions will be best. Despite the uncertainty around it all, schools in the American education system are doing everything they can to prepare for the upcoming school year.
No one knows this better than Alyssa Ciarrocchi, an educator from Hammonton, New Jersey. She provides her insight into the different steps the education system is taking to start back up.
Health and Safety Measures
As with anything reopening amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, new health and safety measures must be implemented across the education system. All schools must ensure they have access to an adequate number of quality cleaning supplies. At many schools, high touch surfaces are to be disinfected twice daily. Such surfaces include door handles, light switches, eating areas such as cafeterias, bathroom fixtures, computer keyboards, and sports equipment. In addition, hand sanitizer stations are being placed all around schools. Some schools are even going so far as to have hand sanitizer available in every single classroom.
Another health and safety measure Alyssa Ciarrocchi thinks should be considered is mandatory face masks or coverings for staff and students of a certain age. Some learning institutions have already made face masks mandatory in all indoor spaces for grades 4 and above. Another health and safety measure that could significantly help curb the spread of the virus is mandatory symptom screenings each morning. Depending on the funding that the school has received, some schools have been able to purchase digital temperature readers to check their students for fevers each morning. Other schools without such funding have asked parents and older children to conduct self or at-home assessments prior to coming to school. One thing that is uniform across the country is that if any student is exhibiting any symptom of COVID-19, they should stay at home and isolate immediately.
Lastly, in line with this, many school districts have been required to create a clear plan or protocol for a situation where a student at school is suspected of having the virus. For example, many schools are designating an entire room in the school as a space where a child suspected of having COVID-19 can go. From there, there are protocols in place for everything that students may have touched to be disinfected and all of their personal belongings to be rounded up and sealed in a bag for a minimum of seven days.
Another step Alyssa Ciarrocchi says that the education system is taking is to train all staff on matters related to COVID-19. In many states, school staff are receiving at least one full day of training on the newly implemented health and safety protocols and adapted model for how the school will operate. In addition to basic training, some schools have also chosen to do multi-day run throughs with staff members to ensure the new protocols and changes they’ve made to the running of the school are doable. This training should be provided to all staff members, which includes teachers, as well as caretakers, and supply/occupational teachers. The training of staff is necessary to ensure the smooth running of school.
Alyssa Ciarrocchi on Virtual Learning
The transition to online learning is something that certain schools began in the spring. However, some schools had more success than others, which makes the coming months the real test to see if virtual learning can be an effective solution for the education system during the pandemic. According to Alyssa Ciarrocchi, she believes that it is a necessary step, especially for middle and secondary schools, as well as for schools in districts that are already overcrowded with students. Some private schools, along with colleges, have opted to go completely virtual while others have chosen to operate on a rotating in-person and virtual basis to cut the amount of students in school each day in half. Of course, there are drawbacks to virtual learning, especially among underprivileged students who may not have access to the tools they need to succeed at home with online learning. However, schools are working to address this in the next few weeks.