The world intensely needs young people to reclaim and appreciate their liberty to interact with their peers and teachers, and learn in a physical classroom without fear of repercussions. With the threat of COVID-19 fading away slowly, schools have learned to be adaptable, resourceful, and far more resilient in order to manage the unique circumstances caused by the infection. Much has been said regarding the procedures that institutions should follow as schools reopen after two years. To gain fresh ideas, one must first examine the current procedures. This article aims to address the issues that educational institutions confront, as well as the special concerns that should be taken into account when establishing a reopening plan.
Health and well-being of children
One of the most pressing issues that institutions must address is guaranteeing the health and well-being of students and employees. It is the only way to build a good opening strategy. Many specialists feel that the physical reopening of schools will increase the risk of the coronavirus transmitting unless precautions are taken. This could also result in the suspension of physical education sessions. Parents, students, and instructors may be concerned about the schools’ ability to handle the crisis as a result of this “one stride forward, two steps backward” dilemma.
Aside from the obvious threats that the public faces, there are certain key problems that are specific to schools and school-going children. The most serious of these is that young children can be sluggish and naïve when it comes to following COVID prevention protocols to the letter. Students may, for example, fail to properly utilize masks, sanitize themselves, or comply with social distancing rules. Rather than following the general reopening rules adopted by most corporations and other adult-centric institutions, schools will need to give proper consideration to such aforementioned concerns.
Action plan for schools
The following are some of the considerations that should be addressed by school officials while designing a reopening action plan. These include being aware of the local reality and the latest information like the number of active cases, infection rate, and so on. If schools don’t follow suit, it could jeopardize not just public health but also the prestige of schools. Furthermore, good communication is a factor that schools must embrace to be successful in their reopening and planning processes. Before reopening, the plan and recommended Covid-19 rules must be discussed with students and parents persuasively. The reopening plans of the schools must ensure that the previously communicated practices are reinforced consistently and continuously.
A tool for monitoring real-time compliance to the criteria and obtaining data to take prompt and effective action would also be advantageous to the reopening approach for schools. Apart from watching, it is also critical to raise awareness among all stakeholders about the need of adhering to the established preventive guidelines. It can be accomplished through workshops, virtual seminars, or elaborate information campaigns, which include the placement of large, prominent banners as visual reminders throughout the structure. All parties must adhere to the established guidelines, or the reopening process would be difficult.
Problems faced by students
Some students are afraid to return to physical classes. After more than two years of pandemic-related turmoil, they have become accustomed to the virtual learning environment. They appear to be at ease with this new method of acquiring education. As a result, returning to physical school settings is becoming increasingly challenging for them.
Another pain point students will face is the lack of continuity in their routine. Their school routine can be further disrupted if there begins another outbreak. These uncertainties will affect their education, both in the short term and long term. It will also destabilize extra-curricular activities. Children will become reluctant to participate in co-curricular activities.
After this long gap, students may also find it difficult to get their socializing skills and rhythm back. However, it is anticipated that with the passage of time, these difficulties and awkwardness will fade away.
Psychological effects of the pandemic on children
Students’ support for school reopening has been swayed by an emotional setback caused by the protracted lockdown and closure of schools. There have been multiple cases of youngsters becoming self-conscious of their bodies and having a poor body image as a result of prolonged periods of inactivity indoors, which has a severe effect on health.
Furthermore, several kids who were talented and successful athletes sensed a separation from their interests. The lockdown left a void in their lives, affecting their mental and physical well-being. Along with implementing a solid reopening plan, schools must address these concerns about students’ mental well-being to encourage their attendance in physical learning spaces through frequent sessions on a positive attitude.
In conclusion, a successful reopening strategy relies on an honest evaluation of the situation of ground reality, student-centered policies, and good communication. As long as schools remain pragmatic and design a well-prepared reopening framework, a considerable return to normal life may be expected in the coming months – something that lakhs of students, teachers, and parents have been looking forward to for the past two years.