School may look very different for students all over the world this year because of COVID-19, the coronavirus. There’s still a lot we don’t know about the virus, but we do know that it is very contagious- meaning it can be spread from one person to another when people cough, sneeze or touch something that has the virus on it and then touch their nose or mouth. Your school and teachers are changing the way school works this year so that everyone can stay safe and healthy. It’s important to listen to your teachers, principal, bus drivers and other school helpers and follow the rules.
Plans for going back to school are different for every school, but here are some of the things that might be different at your school this year.
- You might continue to do school at home, or go to school some days and learn at home other days.
At the end of last school year, most kids finished the year by learning and doing schoolwork at home. You might have gone online to get instruction from your teacher, or had packets to work on at home. Some students will be learning at home again this fall, at least for a while.
You may even go to school different hours or different days.
At some schools in our area, students will go to school two days a week and spend three days doing school at home. You might be divided into groups at your school: one group will attend school Mondays and Wednesdays, while the other group will go Tuesdays and Thursdays.
We know you might miss seeing your friends at school, but this kind of learning will help keep you safe until the virus goes away.
2. You might go back to school as usual, with some new rules.
Some kids will go back to their regular classroom, but have some new rules to keep them safe.
You might be asked to wear masks.
Your teachers might make sure you are washing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
You might have to keep more personal space between yourself and your friends and teachers.
You might be checked to see if you have a fever at school.
You might be reminded to cough or sneeze into your elbow.
3. Your classroom might look different.
Some classrooms might be set up differently.
Your teacher’s desk might be further away. Student’s desks might be spaced further apart from each other, in rows, or there might even be plastic dividers between them. If you are used to sitting at a table with your friends, you might sit at separate desks instead.
All of your friends might not be back at school, since some schools are giving parents the choice of having their kids learn at home for a while. It doesn’t mean you all won’t be back together eventually.
There will be lots of cleaning and hand sanitizing! Your teacher and others might be wiping down desks and supplies with disinfectant many times a day. There might be hand sanitizing stations around your school and even on the school bus.
4. You, your friends and teachers might wear masks or face shields.
Students and teachers and other school workers might have to wear face masks that cover their nose and mouth.
Face masks may help prevent people who have covid-19 from spreading the virus to others.
A face mask is about showing respect for your teacher, classmate or teammate.
There might be times you have to wear masks and other times when you can take them off. For instance, you might have to wear a mask when you are inside the school building, on the bus or lined up to wait for the bus. You teacher might be required to wear a mask or even a plastic face shield.
It might be annoying to wear a face mask. It might look scary or weird to see others wearing them. Sometime it’s confusing when you can’t see someone’s smile. Sometimes it’s hard to hear or understand someone when they are wearing a mask. The important thing to remember is that masks will help keep everyone safe, and that this won’t last forever.
5. You might do your classwork differently.
Having to keep your distance from others might change the way you work in your classroom.
When you are getting individual help from your teacher, you both might have to put on your masks. You might not work together on projects with your classmates as much. You might not work at tables together with your classmates. You might do more schoolwork at home.
6. Recess, lunch and other things might change too.
Recess: Your school might only let small groups of kids on the playground at one time. You might be asked to keep a distance from your friends when you are playing. In Europe, where some kids have already gone back to school, they have come up with a clever solution: shadow tag! In this version of tag, instead of tagging each other, you tag a person’s shadow! We know that kids are clever and will find new ways to have fun!
Lunch: You might each lunch in your classroom. You might have to sit further away from your friends in the lunchroom. It’s important not to share food or your water bottle.
Other things: You might not have art, music, P.E. classes or school assemblies right now.
On the bus: There might be new rules for riding the bus too. You might be required to wear face masks when lined up for the bus or when you’re on the bus.
You might have an assigned seat on the bus, and your bus might have hand sanitizers for you to use. Make sure to listen to your bus driver and stay safe on the bus.
7. A note about sharing.
Even though it’s good to share, you might be asked to keep your hands and personal belongings to yourself for now.
You might be asked to bring your own water bottle from home, or your teacher might provide water bottles and encourage students not to share them with anyone else.
The same goes for sharing personal items or school supplies like pencils, crayons and scissors with your friends. Keep them in your own space and in your own area.
You can still share a smile, a friendly wave and kind words!
8. These rules might change.
Depending on how fast doctors and scientists figure out the virus and how to stop it, the rules for everyone (not just kids) might change. You could be learning at home again, or if you’re learning at home you might go back to the classroom. The important thing to remember is that your parents, your teachers and your school just want to keep you safe and healthy!