How to make school reopening safe for everyone in COVID-19 season

Next week, my eldest will be heading back to school. She’s confident that she can wear the mask for the entire day, but I bought a face shield for her just in case. I will also pack 2 disposable masks in case her cloth one gets dirty or damp with sweat.

  • School bags packed – almost
  • School shoes – check
  • Snack box – check
  • Stationery – check
  • Sanitiser – check
  • Homework – check
  • empty Ziploc bag (Labelled, for storing mask during PE) – check
  • 2 Ziploc bags with extra disposable mask in each, in case a change is needed – check

*Ziplocs should ideally be wide enough to slip in a mask easily without folding it.

I asked her how she was feeling and she said:

  • Happy – to see her friends again in real life after only zoom meetings and virtual play dates
  • Scared – “What if I get the virus?”
  • Irritated – have to wear mask the whole day

Still despite the mixed feelings, I get the sense that she’s generally looking forward to getting a slice of normal back.

While some kids just can’t wait to get back to their school routines, many parents are feeling worried.

“School where got safe distancing? Still 30-40 kids in a class what?”

“Kids where got hygiene standards? Cough into the air or in someone’s face also!”

It’s true. If you want to talk about worries, the list can be endless. But let’s focus on what we can do to stay safe.

Here is my wish-list regarding school reopening in Phase One:

  1. Stagger recess timings such that only 1 primary level is in the canteen at any time. (Many schools already implementing this)
  2. Allow flexibility for children to have recess in class (for those who have packed food from home).
  3. Stagger drop-off timings, or demarcate different areas for parents to pick up different primary level kids.
  4. Allow sufficient catch-up time’ for students who may have had difficulties completing their homework. So they don’t feel unnecessarily stressed at having to hit the ground running.
  5. I hope teachers don’t zoom straight into full-on academic learning. Instead, spend some time reflecting on our individual and collective COVID experiences in class. Maybe even using it as a starting point to talk about the different emotions as well as challenges that we’ve experienced during the circuit breaker period.

But what about those weeks where they have HBL? From my position as a WFH mum, here’s what’s on my wish-list:

  1. Streamline HBL and limit to 1 or 2 different platforms per day, so it doesn’t wreak too much tech-havoc in the family.
  2. Allow kids to hand in work physically the following week, instead of emailing or uploading onto Google drive. Remind them to store homework in individual subject folders.
  3. Instead of meeting kids on Zoom all at one go (with younger kids, it gets too noisy, and it’s mostly one-way lecturing by the teacher), engage kids in small groups (about 5 pax) so that each child gets a chance to speak up, ask a question or clarify anything they don’t understand. You may say, “so time consuming”, but at this point I think fewer but better quality interactions matter.

What about you? Are you feeling more relieved or worried? What is on your wishlist?

**Here’s little Josh happy with his new face shield. Because he’s in Primary 1, and less likely to be able to wear a mask for the entire day, I got him this as an added option. It props up on his head well, so he can eat comfortably with this too.

Face shield

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