As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in several states across the nation, the question remains for how to safely reopen schools in fall. School districts, designers, and healthcare experts are working together to find solutions to reassure parents and help protect communities from increased spread of the virus.
Last week, MooreCo held its first webinar to discuss these solutions with experts. We wrote about the top takeaways from this webinar, which included the importance of “cohorts” as a possible solution for schools reopening. In this blog post, we’ll break down the benefits of cohorts for schools and how you can easily transform your classroom in time for fall.
The Benefits of the Cohort Model
- Allows students to be physically present in school
Just yesterday the American Academy of Pediatrics stated their recommendation for students to be able to learn in-person, noting that in-person learning reduces the chances of adverse mental health conditions. The cohort model allows parents to get back to work, students to be able to continue to socialize and have a sense of routine, and eliminates the concerns about certain students not having access to technology from home that makes remote learning possible.
- Reduces the spread of the virus to students and teachers
The cohort model reduces the spread of the virus compared to traditional learning environments for several reasons. Students are kept together all day with one group and one educator. This means less travel from classroom to classroom and eliminates the chances of exposure among large groups of peers. It also cuts down on the need for disinfecting desks and equipment between every class.
- Reduces the chances that entire schools will be shut down
In the instance that a student or educator develops COVID-19 in a school without containment, the entire school may need to shut down. If schools are divided into contained cohorts, only the cohort that is exposed to the virus will need to isolate. This means other cohorts within the school can continue to attend in-person classes while exposed students may isolate and learn from home.
- Creates flexibility for families
Working parents and families who don’t prefer home school and remote learning will have the opportunity to send their students safely to school if cohorts are created. Those who’d prefer to keep students at home can continue to learn with the cohorts via online technology. With Google Classroom or i3LearnHub, it becomes easy to transition between classroom and home learning. This will be especially beneficial if a family member is exposed to the virus and needs to isolate from home.
How to Create Classroom Cohorts
Don’t be intimidated by the idea of overhauling your school. A few simple products and solutions can turn any existing classroom into a cohort that will help keep students and faculty safe. Here’s what you’ll need:
- A Mobile Sanitation Station
We now know that preventing the spread of COVID-19 depends largely on heightened hygiene practices like frequent handwashing, wearing masks, and disinfecting of surfaces and shared materials. Sanitation stations can be made easily from the Compass Cabinets, that can be moved easily throughout the room by teachers and students and contain the necessary equipment for staying safe. These include masks, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, and any other supplies for reducing the spread.
- Easily Moveable Furniture for Teachers and Students
Teachers need to be able to move easily to stay socially distant in classrooms. Our Mobile Teacher’s Workstation is lightweight and durable and makes cleaning and organization a snap. For students, desks that are easy to move and disinfect is important to reduce the spread of the virus. Our Boomerang Desk is compact and available on casters, making it easily configurable for cohort rooms.
- Classroom Supplies that are Personal and Easy to Clean
The transfer and exchange of school supplies like papers and pencils in classrooms can spread the virus from students to teachers and back again. Eco-friendly alternatives like our Economy Lapboards will give each student a personal workspace that they can use to annotate, make notes, or do math problems. Each lapboard wipes clean with water and will also stand up to routine disinfectant cleaning.
- Technology that Allows for Hybrid and Remote Learning
In order for cohorts to learn seamlessly in person or at home, certain technological tools are needed. With a simple web cam, smart board, and internet access, any classroom becomes a hybrid classroom. We recommend partnering an interactive smart board like the i3Sixty with an online learning platform like i3LearnHub. Together, these allow teachers to send students assignments to their own tablets, laptops at home, or to be able to learn in class in a more traditional setting. They are easy to use and won’t require hours of extra training for teachers.
- Protective Barriers
In addition to wearing masks, personal protective barriers can act as sneeze guards to reduce the spread of the virus when distancing is unavailable. Our Essentials Clear Dividers can be used to create spacing in between student desks or between teacher and students. New to our family of products are our Trifold Acrylic Desktop Screens that provide clear personal protection on each student desk.
- A Positive Attitude
Although this moment in time is presenting many challenges, we can rise to the occasion together. Now that you see how simple it is to create a cohort classroom that meets the guidelines from the CDC and other leading organizations, all we need is to take care of each other with diligence, heightened hygiene, and conscious practices. Being flexible will be necessary as well, as classrooms may need to shift between in person and online models for the next year. You can do this!
We’re Here to Help…
We remain committed to helping schools get ready for a safe reopening this fall, whether classes resume in person, online, or in a hybrid environment. We have everything you need to outfit your school and we are ready with quick ship options to help you do so as fast as possible. Please call us if you have any questions about how to get your school ready this year. We are here to help!