Mar 19, 2020 | Carol Cwiak |
Public and private elementary, middle, and high schools in the United States serve approximately 56 million students. The K-12 school system expends approximately $700 billion a year and employs over 3.5 million teachers (and an equal number of support staff in educational, health, facility, food, janitorial, and transportation ser- vices). The K-12 educational system is an institu- tion that is deeply rooted in our society and it underpins our sense of normalcy. Aside from meeting students’ educational needs, the K-12 system also provides a secondary benefit - coverage for working parents during the school day. This coverage provides support to a significant percentage of the workforce. This benefit, when coupled with public health officials’ observations that children are not as vulnerable to Covid-19 as originally believed, has left room for discussion about the impact school closures could have on the workforce. There are two camps in this debate, those who want to preserve the daily institution of school as it is, and those who believe a failure to close schools will increase disease spread. As more is learned about the spread of the virus, many K-12 schools have made swift decisions to close for varying periods of time. The speed with which the virus has taken hold in U.S. cities increased the pressures on schools to make sound decisions that protect children and those they interact with. These decisions create challenges regard- ing the delivery of education, food security, and the role that schools play in children’s social networks. The enduring nature of this pandemic requires schools to think about the cascading implications that school disruptions will have on students, staff, and teachers. This is an opportunity for schools to consider the plans and preparation they can put in place to mitigate risks and create a more resilient response and recovery. The Importance of Planning and Preparedness Efforts for K-12 Schools The tip sheet series is slated to cover preparedness and strategy considerations for over 30 different business, industry, critical infrastructure and community organization types. The primary repository for these tip sheets is our Facebook page. The tip sheet series will be published throughout the months of March and April 2020. Additional tip sheets will be added beyond that period as they are identified. If you have questions about the areas to be covered by the tip sheets or ideas for additional tip sheet coverage, let us know. facebook.com/Covid-19-Business-Community-Org-Tip-Sheets- 109084464035337/ Business Name Version 1, Published March 19, 2020 K-12 Schools We are here to help. This tip sheet series is created by a team from NDSU's Department of Emergency Manage- ment and are provided as a free service. For more information about this effort, contact Dr. Carol Cwiak at email@example.com or (701) 231-5847. Using the Tip Sheet The tip sheet is designed to help you start thinking about potential impacts COVID-19 will have on your organization’s mission and operations. The goal is to prompt discussion in your organ- ization about planning and preparedness efforts you can take now to lessen the spread of the virus, continue essential operations, and extend your operations in ways that can better assist your workforce, clientele, and community efforts to manage the impacts of the Coronavirus. How are you protecting your workforce and planning for diminished capacity? - How will the curriculum be delivered during school closure? - Do the necessary systems currently exist to take curriculum online? - Do teachers and staff have the ability and capacity to work with these systems from their homes? - Will teachers and staff have a choice regarding whether they work from home or at an offsite facility? - How long will it take for teaching teams to modify material for the online environment? - How will modified material for students with IEPs be handled? - Will the lessons be synchronous or asynchronous? - Is online education viable for all grade levels? - Do all students have access to technology and the internet? - Will there be alternative materials (e.g., printed materials) for students who cannot go online or who struggle with online content? - How will assistance regarding the lessons be provided to students? - Will a parent or caretaker need to assist with these online lessons? - Will there be parent guides to go with the student lessons? - Will textbooks be sent home during the closure? - How will student efforts be corrected and graded? - Will there be an effort to monitor attendance based on lesson completion? - How will students who rely on school breakfasts and lunches for food security be affected? - How will special services provided to students (e.g., speech, counseling, etc.) be handled? - How will band, orchestra, choir, sports, and other school clubs and activities be handled? - How will the interruption to children’s school social networks be addressed? - How will interruption and the resultant caretaking needs affect the workforce? - Are there concerns about children who will not be supervised during the school day? - Will students have library access? - What will bus drivers, janitorial staff, cafeteria workers, and other support staff do during the interruption? - Will all employees be paid during the interruption? - What are the impacts of an interruption on service contracts signed by the school? - Will prom, graduation, concerts, and theater events planned for later in the year be cancelled? Things to Consider: Challenges and Impacts of Interruption How are you communicating the risk and protocols in place to create a strong line of defense against spread of the virus? Page 2 K-12 Schools How will supply chain slowing or disruption affect your ability to continue operations? - How will a healthy classroom and workplace environment be maintained? - Do additional wellness guidelines need to be developed? - Will there be daily health screenings (e.g., temperature taking) prior to entering the school? - What protocol is in place for a potential Covid-19 case (student, staff, or teacher)? - What protocol is in place for student, staff, or teacher exposure to a Covid-19 case? - Do school officials have a duty to report suspected Covid-19 cases? - How long after having Covid-19 will a student, staff, or teacher be allowed to return? - Will student, staff, or teachers who have been to areas with virus hot zones need to self-quarantine for 14 days before they can return to school? - How will extended absences due to illness or quarantine be addressed? - Will a confirmed case of Covid-19 at the school trigger closure? - How will communication regarding the virus be handled by the school? - Will regular updates be provided to parents and staff based on the evolving nature of the threat? - Do cleaning regimens need be enhanced to help reduce spread? - Is the facility equipped with the necessary supplies and staffing to meet the enhanced cleaning, monitoring, and reporting needs? - Do food service protocols need to be modified (e.g., paper plates, single use utensils, etc.) and should lunch shifts be staggered to allow for proper social distancing? - Have potential staffing shortages (all staff, not just classroom teachers) based on illness or caretaking needs been planned for? - Will access by visitors and vendors be limited? - Will student teaching observations and activities continue? - Will items carried back and forth from home be limited? - Will snacks and food from home be allowed? - Will there be changes in large group activities, playground scheduling, etc.? - Can there be changes to operational hours to accommodate social distancing? - Does the school have adequate supplies (hygiene and other) to cover operations for at least 30 days? - How will staff and teachers communicate the threat and precautions related to Covid-19 with students? - How will this event affect student, staff and teacher mental health? - Are systems in place to serve provide surge counseling for those who need it? Things to Consider: Challenges and Impacts of Continuing Operations Page 3 Things to Consider: Learning and Growth “To catch the reader's attention, place an interesting sentence or quote from the story here.” Page 4 K-12 Schools Caption describing picture or graphic. Caption describing picture or graphic. • Create a consistent communication protocol and provide regular updates through a variety of platforms (email, website, social media, weekly newsletters, and local media partners) to all students, parents, staff, and teachers. - Prepare pre-scripted messages for identified trigger points in your plans to ensure consistent organizational communications throughout the event. - Identify specific points of contact with key partners (e.g., local public health) and places to go for more information. - Create (and update frequently) a FAQ page that addresses the most salient questions. Strategies: Healthy Workplace & Workplace Reintegration Strategies: Communication - How will an interruption, particularly a long-term interruption, affect students’ social networks and social development? - If an interruption, closure, or extended absence due to illness disrupts students’ ability to completely cover material in their current grade level, how will the lack of readiness be addressed as they go into the next grade level? - Are there study-intensive mechanisms that can be employed now to aid students who are more vulnerable to falling behind? The following team members contributed to this Tip Sheet: Elizabeth Bergen Josh Brinkman Carol Cwiak Brandi Pikal Peter Mayerchak Shane Williams Page 4 - Implement a variety of healthy school and workplace strategies, including: increased messaging focused on behaviors that lower disease spread (e.g., wash hands, cover coughs and sneezes with tissues or cough and sneeze into sleeve, don’t touch face, don’t shake hands, fist bump, or hug); have hand sanitizer, tissues, and disinfectant wipes readily available; increase frequency of facility cleaning; implement social distancing (at least arm’s length apart); promote a culture that encourages students, staff, and teachers to stay home when sick; offer paid, flexible sick leave that can also be used for care taking of family members (i.e., allowing use of vacation pay, flex hours, adding PTO days, etc.); develop telework capability (where applicable); and, where possible, move meetings to web-based format. - Consider implementing a strong school and workplace integration policy that details: 1) when students, staff, and teachers who have been ill can come back to work (i.e., temperature below 100.4 for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication); and, 2) the number of days an individual must self-quarantine or undertake limited workplace engagement after being exposed to an infected individual. - Discourage students, staff, and teachers from using shared items (e.g., refrigerators, coffee pots, microwaves, candy dishes, copiers, shared school supplies, etc.) and shared places (e.g., meeting rooms, lounges, etc.). - Create work shift periods which decrease the number of staff and teachers in specific areas and allow for episodic on-site engagement of a wider-variety of individuals. Tip Sheets in this Series -Colleges & Universities -Houses of Worship -Financial Institutions -Preschools & Daycares -Nursing Homes -Animal Care & Services -Trucking Industry -Grocery Stores -Food Pantries & Meal Services -Restaurants -Fast Food & Delivery Services -K-12 Schools -In-home Care Services -Professional Cleaning Services -Gyms and Activity Centers -Event Centers, Museums, Theaters, & Malls -Retail Stores -Pharmacies -Public Tr nsportation -Funeral Homes & Services -Critical Services Providers -Media Services -Clubs, Social Orgs, & Sport Teams -Legal & Administrative Proceedings -Cultural Centers & Non-profits -Counseling Services -Delivery Services -Detention Centers -Homeless Shelters -Elections -Census Strategies: Workforce Shortages - Classify your staff and teachers based on necessity during such an event as follows: 1) essential to operations and must be in the workplace; 2) essential to operations, but can telework; 3) not essential to operations, but can telework; and, 4) not essential to operations, not necessary for them to telework. - Use the classification system to identify those in classifications 3 and 4 who can be cross-trained for positions essential to operations to create depth in the workforce. - Capture functions of positions essential to operations in writing (in detail) and utilize those documents and the primary individual in the position to cross-train to a depth of three on all these positions. - Conduct practice telework days prior to telework implementations to ensure that equipment, interfaces, and capability are sufficient. - Schedule cross-trained employees to perform in the cross-trained position periodically to build confidence and ability. - Incorporate substitute staff and teachers into cross-training efforts to expand depth. - Cancel all non-essential travel and large group engagements both to limit disease exposure and to maintain workforce strength proximity when shortages occur. Page 5 Version 1, Published March 19, 2020 Strategies: Workforce Retention - Create a project list that can be done In the event of closure to allow staff and teachers who would not otherwise be paid to continue working. This list can cover everything from painting and cleaning, to assisting with lesson prep materials for the following year or creating new bulletin board displays. Reten- tion of staff and teachers in such an event are not only fiscally smart (hiring and training are far more expensive), but are also important to the school community’s recovery and ability to be resilient. Familiar faces matter and every attempt should be made to retain staff and teachers. - Check in with staff and teachers frequently during the event and facilitate their ability to maintain contact with the school peer network virtually. This connection becomes more important in challenging times that are filled with uncertainty. Strategies: Social Network Connections - Maintaining social networks and connections with peers during a disruption are important to students’ social development. These networks and connections help maintain some sense of normalcy in the face of disruption and can help with coping. These networks and connections can be supported through closed social media groups and web-based communication platforms, both at the class level and at a smaller peer group level. - The maintenance of these social networks and connections should not be left to chance. Efforts should be integrated into the coursework migrated online where possible. Success in these efforts will help students more successfully transition back to a face-to-face environment when school s are open again. - Not all students will have equal access to technology and the internet. Special consideration must be given to the ways in which these students’ social networks and connections will be nurtured during a school closure. CDC COVID-19 Updates, Information, and Resources https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html Interim Guidance for Administrators of US K-12 Schools and Childcare Programs https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-for-schools.html COVID-19 Global Cases Map and Statistics (Johns Hopkins) https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html?fbclid=IwAR0n2MaFP8ajO_4LCjvfqOG6Es- JkEi8dfDh5msTy5Nlz9i-6jmKMehXNzw#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6 COVID-19: Preparing For Widespread Illness in Your School Community; A Legal Guide for School Leaders https://www.nsba.org/Resources/coronavirus/legal-guide Quick Start Guide: Pandemic Planning for Businesses https://www.ndsu.edu/fileadmin/emgt/Quick_Start_Guide_-_Pandemic_Planning_for_Businesses.pdf Strategies: Continuity of Education - Use district level or facility level teams to determine the essentials that must be delivered for the remaining period that students will be at that grade level. Migration to an online or parent-supported home classroom will not produce the same results as those possible in a face-to-face classroom. Learning objectives will have to be modified and reduced expectations for curriculum coverage will need to be accepted. - Place a priority on the schools’ ability to maintain some sense of normalcy in routine and connection in considering what will be taught and how. Periodically using tools such as Zoom, which allows students and teachers to see each other will help students (and teachers) work through the challenges of this social disruption. - Create teacher/student and small group interaction plans to continue IEP based services and curriculum. Use the period of disruption to work more intensively with IEP students to advance their learning goals. - Create staff and teaching teams of at least three that can provide coverage should a staff member or teacher become ill or have care-taking responsibilities for an ill family member. There is a high likelihood that members of your school community (or their family members) will become ill with Covid-19 and some will become severely ill and may die. This reality must be factored into plans as it will have a profound effect on students, staff, and teachers. - Work with area colleges and universities to create a network of junior and senior level education students who can provide web-based one-on-one assistance to students as part of their program credit or outreach expectations. - Find ways to integrate the Covid-19 pandemic and the impacts it is having into curriculum to reduce fears with facts. Empower students by focusing on developing their sense of agency and their ability to make informed choices to help keep themselves, their family members, their friends, and their community safe. - Examine the gaps that students will have entering the next grade level based on the interruption to face-to- face schooling and learning objective adjustments. Consider the ways in which these gaps can be addressed either before students move into the next grade level (e.g., continuing all students in online education throughout the summer) or once the new year begins (e.g., extended days, topically-intensive remediation built into the first four weeks of classes, etc.). - Recognize that it is highly likely that the Covid-19 pandemic will extend into the fall. Alternative plans should be developed for a variety of delivery scenarios. Page 6 Version 1, Published March 19, 2020 Recommended Resources
The goal of the COVID-19 Tip Sheet project is to provide short tip sheets for a variety of business types and community orgs to help with their planning efforts for Coronavirus (COVID-19). These tip sheets are created by a team from NDSU's Department of Emergency Management and provided as a free service. For more information about this effort, contact Dr. Carol Cwiak at firstname.lastname@example.org or (701) 231-5847.