What classrooms will look like next year is still very much up in the air. It’s also pretty certain that the guidelines for back to school 2020 will change over the coming weeks and months and even vary in different parts of the country.
For example, some regions of the country may go back to their classrooms as normal, others may go back with restrictions, and some districts might decide on split schedules or a mix of in-class and remote learning. Information surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic changes almost daily, so we can be pretty sure that what getting back to school in 2020 looks like will change constantly, too.
There is one thing that we can count on, and that is the fact that going back to school in 2020 will look and feel different. Next school year will be a hybrid of many ideas, and will morph over time.
With so many unknowns and possible changes, let’s focus on what we do know for back to school 2020. There will definitely be an increased focus on health, cleanliness, and ways to stop germs from spreading. Here are some ideas to meet those needs!
Teaching Kids about Germs
Children tend to be visual learners, and because germs aren’t visible, it can be hard for them to understand how easily germs can spread. Glitter Bug Potion is a hand lotion with a special, yet safe, ingredient that causes it to glow under black light. This is perfect for teaching about germs and how they spread! Here’s what you do:
- DO NOT tell the children what you are doing except offering them some lotion for their hands.
- Give a squirt of lotion to each child and have them rub it in like regular lotion.
- Wait at least an hour.
- Turn off the lights and turn on the black light.
- Explore the room together. The children will be able to see everything they touched! From doorknobs, to books, and even their own faces!
This lotion will not stain or stay on surfaces permanently. It’s a great way for children to visually see how much they touch things and how easily germs can spread!
Depending on your class, you can give half the students the lotion to see if the other half end up with any of it on them to show how germs can be passed from person to person and not just to objects. This will serve as a good reminder for them to keep their hands to themselves.
Teaching Kids about Staying Healthy
At the beginning of the year, spend some time going over health and hygiene expectations. You can’t assume your students will automatically know the new rules that come along with back to school 2020. Ser clear guidelines and place posters around your room as reminders. You can even give each student a printed-out sheet with your expectations so they always have something handy to reference.
Including Wipe-Clean Surfaces In Your Classroom
Focusing on using easy-to-clean surfaces and items in your classroom is an important step to take toward creating a safe environment for your students in 2020.
Plastic is the perfect surface for wiping clean! All of Really Good Stuff®’s plastic baskets, bins, and caddies are a great way to store items, but are also easily cleaned with disinfecting wipes. Really Good Stuff® also offers plastic privacy shields, folders, and bags as well as book pouches and chair pockets that are water-resistant and can also be wiped down to help prevent germs from spreading!
Avoiding Movement around the Room
Kids are kids, and they LOVE to move, in fact some NEED to move, but the goal of back to school 2020 will most likely be to avoid lots of movement. There are several things that you can do to avoid the need for movement in the classroom. Here are a few tips:
- Use Book Bins – Let students select a week’s worth of books and store them in the book bins. This way you can have students “book shop” once per week and avoid having a lot of students in the classroom library area at one time.
- Use Chair Pockets – Students can keep a variety of items in their chair pockets. These chair pockets are a great place to store individual student supplies like folders, books, etc. Really Good Stuff® has a variety of sizes and features in our selection. This gives students additional space to store items whether you use desks or tables.
- Consider a Flexible Classroom – Flexible seating may be perfect as a way to keep students further apart, if that is your school’s direction. Some teachers love the idea of flexible seating but are concerned about where students will keep their “stuff.” Really Good Stuff® offers a unique bin/caddy that gives students space for books, as well as supplies! It’s available in black or blue.
- Let Students Use Individual Pencil Sharpeners – When students know how to use a hand-held pencil sharpener, you can avoid trips to the classroom pencil sharpener. Consider making these a part of your individual student supplies.
Focus on Individual Student Supplies vs. Community Supplies in Your Classroom
Shared supplies will probably take a vacation for back to school 2020 to stop germs from spreading. This may be a big change for some teachers and classrooms, but it can be done, and it can be done efficiently! The big thing to remember here is to ensure that all students have what they need each day, and to have supplies housed where kids can easily and efficiently get them.
Whichever vessel you choose, have a checklist! It will be worth the five minutes at the end of each day to have students physically check their supplies. This is also a great time to have sharpened pencils ready to go for the next day.
One idea is to create your list with check boxes and laminate the paper. That way, students who need to physically check each item off with a dry erase marker, can. Don’t be afraid to get specific! Even for crayons, you might want to list the colors you want students to have! The first few times that you do this, it may take a long time, but like all things, the children (and you!) will get more efficient with practice!
A Final Word on Back to School 2020
So, the future of classrooms in 2020 is up in the air, but we are teachers. If 2020 has shown us anything so far, it’s that educators are resilient (just look at how far we’ve come with distance learning!). We will do what is best for our students, even if that means stepping out of our comfort zone and doing things differently!
All we can do is make sure we’re prepared to adapt our plans for any new changes 2020 might throw at us.
By Angela French
Angela French is the Senior Product Development and Content Manager at Really Good Stuff. She has worked for the company for nearly seven years and has created hundreds of resources for the classroom. She has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. Her classroom experiences include teaching grade levels K–5 and inclusion, special education, literacy intervention, and gifted and talented programs in three different states.