Federation of School Leaders Issues Guide for Reopening Safely
- By Dian Schaffhauser
Federation of School Administrators
recently issued a new
guide for reopening schools safely.
Developed by a group of school leaders from around the country, the
report suggests that districts are in an untenable position.
no way to create a perfect environment, "no matter how many
safety protocols are put in place," the report stated. "Children
and adults will get sick." As a result, schools will need to
shut down, even temporarily, which "will impact education and
the social-emotional well-being of communities and families."
report pointed out that there were added costs to cover a greatly
ramped-up cleaning regimen and "basic sanitary needs" as
well as investments for improving online learning programs. AFSA
quoted an estimate from the Council
of Chief State School Officers,
which pegged the additional funding needs at somewhere between $158.1
billion and $244.6 billion to reopen school sites safely and "serve
all students in the next academic year."
there's not really consensus on what school leaders should do. A
among principals and assistant principals in all 50 states found that
just 22 percent of respondents said it was "very" or
"somewhat likely" they could successfully protect students
and staff from transmission of the coronavirus if in-person classes
resumed. Additionally, when asked about their preferred model for
conducting classes in the fall, half of school leaders preferred a
hybrid model--a combination of in-person and remote learning--as the
best option; 17 percent designated remote learning; 26 percent chose
students going to school five days a week in person for normal days;
and seven percent said they were undecided.
same survey found that most people (53 percent) favored a cohort
model, in which one group of students attends in-person classes on
certain days, with the other group attending on alternative days.
Students would then participate in remote learning when they were
home. Also, to manage physical distancing requirements, 60 percent
cited a "bubble strategy, which would keep students in the same
classrooms throughout the day, including lunch.
any plan for a school needs to bring a "team of stakeholders"
together, including parents, teachers, paraprofessionals, school
engineers, custodians, office personnel, district people and
students, the latest report urged. By developing a plan "with
everyone's understanding and consensus," the authors noted, "it
will help remove uncertainty and fear."
report advised that the plan incorporate guidance in numerous areas,
and cleaning to reduce the risk of exposure to surfaces and objects
" before school opens, after closing, and during the course of
the school day."
distancing requirements that adhere to the state's public health and
instructional guidelines for reopening.
ready access to handwashing stations and sanitizers.
screening practices in place for symptom detection, as well as a
space for isolation of students who show symptoms. When that space
hits capacity, the report advised, "it is probably time to
consider closing a school down for a period of time."
class sizes: a limit of 10 students in a classroom at the elementary
levels and five students in recess groups; in secondary schools,
limits based on how many students can be accommodated at a distance
of six feet apart. Adhering to the rules might require establishment
of split schedules and staggered mealtimes, the report suggested.
"intermittent quarantine" when necessary, including
developing a "virtual learning protocol," creating a
platform for posting work; producing videos for instruction; and
offering teacher training "on how to teach online effectively."
sure students with diverse needs get the extra attention they need,
as difficult as that may be without appropriate funding and with
evidence of contact and cases to families and the broader school
mandatory training and support for everybody--teachers, students,
parents and staff.
guide is critical because AFSA members, principals, assistant
principals, managers of school bus transportation, food service and
student services, just to name a few, are the people on the ground in
communities responsible to manage schools and implement any needed
safety protocols," said AFSA President Ernest Logan in a
statement. "This guide was designed to help them ask the right
questions and engage the community."
report is openly available on
the AFSA website.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.