Published: April 14, 2021
Due to the pandemic, many students have fallen behind, lost interest, or even left school altogether, and despite the herculean efforts of parents and education professionals, grades and attendance have gone down while drop-out rates have gone up.
But the situation is not all doom and gloom. With more and more vaccinations becoming available, and new strategies for reopening schools, there appears to be a bit of light at the end of the tunnel: many schools either have partly reopened or are set to partly reopen soon.
Doing so may not be as dangerous as one thinks. Recent studies indicate that countries where schools have remained closed have not had more success at reducing the spread of COVID than countries where schools have opened.
If reopening schools proves to be relatively safe, the return to the classroom will mark the end of a uniquely difficult period in history and the beginning of a new era — the “new normal” — that will ideally empower children to catch up in school and excel.
What Will Schools Look Like in the New Normal?
It’s tough to predict what the new normal will look like for education, but experts recommend cautious optimism. Given the slow rollout of the vaccine, the fact that children are last to be vaccinated, and the new strains of the virus that are emerging across the globe, the new normal may not be as different as one would hope. And even if the most optimistic forecasts are true, students will still struggle with catching up.
Schools will have to go the extra mile to get their students back on track. Post-pandemic strategies at the K-12 may include spending extra time on complex areas, homing in on essential parts of the curriculum while abandoning others, and combining more than one subject into one class.
Different schools will have different strategies, of course, but all will share the same goal: make up for what has been missed.
One thing that is certain is schools will adhere to strict health policies designed to prevent health risks. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put forward these guidelines for preventing community spread:
- Teach and reinforce healthy hygiene
- Develop information sharing systems
- Intensify cleaning and disinfectants
- Monitor for absenteeism
- Assess group gatherings and events—consider postponing non-critical gatherings and events
- Require sick students and staff stay home
- Establish procedures for someone becoming sick at school
This means that masks and social distancing procedures will probably remain in effect, and classrooms and hallways will likely be equipped with hand-washing stations. Students won’t share as many supplies as they did before the pandemic, and recess, lunchtime, and gym will be subject to restrictions. Classrooms and resources will have to be sanitized throughout the day.
School-based meals will become a more common resource. Students will have to remain socially distant inside and outside. To prevent overcrowding, students and staff will take turns coming to school and staying home. Students’ physical health will of course be monitored closely — so, too, will their mental health.
If all goes well, kindergarteners will no longer need to learn phonetics online, high school seniors will get to tour universities and colleges in person, and teachers will have the privilege of getting to know their students face-to-face, without a screen between them.
Credit: Andrea Piacquadio Via Pexels
How Parents Can Get Their Children Back on Track
Still, adjusting to the pandemic has required incredible fortitude and sacrifice. Parents have needed to be more proactive about their kids’ education than ever before. Without the routine offered by in-person schooling, they have had to ensure their kids adhere to a productive schedule, and they have had to minimize distractions without depriving their kids of enjoyment.
Many have had to do all of this (and more) while simultaneously working full or part time jobs and taking care of other family members as well as their own health both physical and mental.
The new normal may lessen the burden on parents who throughout the pandemic have struggled to get by, but extra resources will still be necessary. The online learning support resources that Prep Academy Tutors has made available will continue to be there to help, including our online tutoring in Ontario and in other Canadian provinces.
The vaccination process in the United States has been significantly faster than it has in Canada, and we have endeavored to keep pace with these developments through our tutoring services in New York by allowing for in-person tutoring and learning pods in communities where it is safe to do so.
We believe that these resources have proved to be beneficial to students, parents, and teachers over the past year, and we hope they will continue to provide vital support as schools reopen.
Cautious Optimism Going Forward
With the onset of the new normal, parents and children have every right to breathe a collective sigh of relief. But there are reasons why experts are advising caution.
Despite the comprehensive safety measures and guidelines the CDC and other health organizations have put forward, there is a chance that reopening schools will increase the spread of COVID-19, in which case schools will close again and parents and kids will return to the same position they’ve been in for the past year.
To prepare kids for the possibility of future school closures, it’s important that parents talk to them about what closure will entail, and how they can best prepare.
Preparing for the Possibility of School Closure
Last March, when schools and offices were just beginning to close and public health policies designed to prevent the spread of COVID took effect, it was impossible to predict how long the pandemic would take or what it would mean for education. No one was prepared for the many challenges lockdowns would pose to day-to-day life.
Since then, parents have learned how to provide their children an education in spite of the difficulties. This means that, if schools do close again, parents and kids are far more prepared to deal with the consequences than they were one year ago.
Tutors have been lifesavers for students of all ages. Canadian parents who’ve sought help from Toronto tutors as well as Americans who’ve sought help from similar resources in the States, are by now quite familiar with how beneficial these resources are.
Resources like learning pods will remain available in the short- and long-term future, regardless of whether or not schools open or close again. Parents can help their children understand that in a world with an uncertain future these resources are a constant they can count on.
The future of school is up in the air, but tutors will always be at the ready. If you want to find out more about the tutoring options in your city, or to learn more about our approach to tutoring, get in touch with Prep Academy Tutors today.