The champagne bottles are being chilled across Australia as parents eagerly wait for the school gates to once again reopen. Children are excited to see their friends and teachers again and to get back into some kind of routine outside the confines of home.
Whilst Australia appears to have “flattened the curve” and given us all a sense of confidence that we are on the path back to pre – Corona times, I can’t seem to shake an uneasy feeling that without a vaccine – there isn’t going to be a “ back to normal” anytime soon or that we are definitely in the clear.
What is this going to mean for our schools? The government has suggested that “Social Distancing” will not need to be followed within the school grounds, but logic tells me this may simply be because there isn’t space in the average classroom to place the children 1.5 m apart on all sides. It is definitely not practical but does that mean it isn’t necessary?
According to government and health officials the risk of child to child transmission is minimal. However, teachers will be required to socially distance themselves from their colleagues as well as try and maintain some kind social distance from the children especially as ages creep up towards adulthood. We will most likely find high school students will also be encouraged to keep distance from their peers as well as teachers.
From our experience with those businesses returning to office premises, it would not surprise me if classroom design and layout get revised to help provide the ability to distant one from the other. Given many teachers reluctance to commence face to face learning ( for no other reason than concern of how it may impact health outcomes for themselves, their family and colleagues) I think classroom layouts and inclusion of desk dividers is something that deserves as much attention as hand sanitising routines. This is especially true of newly transformed 21st Century Open Plan classrooms which only have large shared desks which are effective for collaborating but definitely not for keeping own personal space.
Schools have started to release guidelines of how the school day will be managed including routine temperature checks at the start of the day and hand sanitising will almost certainly become part of the curriculum. The schools will also require thorough cleaning on a day to day basis. Parents will be asked to stay off campuses with “ drop and go” taking on a whole new meaning . It Is unlikely we will see a return to school sport gatherings or concerts anytime soon.
I also think it is important to be aware that home-schooling could be thrust back upon us very quickly. One positive Covid – 19 test within a household of any student at school will most likely result in a full or partial school closure until it is considered safe return.
I’m not suggesting not to pop open that Champagne come next week or whenever it may be your school reopens just be optimistically cautious.
Jacqueline Hawksworth, the founder of Mumble by Design
You may also like to read: