[Podcast] The coronavirus pandemic shuttered schools this spring. Something else will keep them closed this fall. Doc explains the trifecta that will keep schools closed for some or all of 2020-2021.
DIRECT LINK to MP3 of this Episode: https://tinyurl.com/SDP132-AUDIO
TEACHERS UNIONS CONSIDERING STRIKES AND PROTESTS OVER COVID19
Politico’s Nicole Gaudiano, John Hendel and Leah Nylen wrote: “Teachers union: ‘Scream bloody murder’ if schools reopen without proper safety measures. The nation’s two biggest teachers unions say they would consider strikes or major protests if schools reopen against the advice of medical experts. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, is encouraging governors to “seriously consider” reopening schools.”
PSYCHOLOGY OF CORONAVIRUS SCHOOL SAFETY
Doc identifies three psychological constructs that will drive safety-themed decision making in the age of pandemics. (1) Customer Perceived Value – means that people will pay for any device or practice that might decrease opportunities for germs/bacteria/viruses. This will create a “Wild West” environment for vendors pitching a range of new anti-viral sprays and gadgets to minimize person-to-person contact. (2) Social Proof is the tendency for one school to follow the practices of another school. If one school buys a $100,000 germ-zapping robot, the neighboring school is pressured to make a similar investment. (3) Overton Window has shifted and public policy will reflect the age of pandemics. It will be much easier to pass laws regarding social distancing in schools and regulations around things like washing hands.
ISSUES K12 SCHOOLS WILL NEED TO ADDRESS FOR SCHOOL TO RESUME
David identifies several areas, equipment to transportation to policies that must be addressed before students return to in-person instruction.
Teachers, aides, cooks, custodians, office staff and visitors will all wear face masks in fall. Gloves will also be commonplace and school nurses and health aides will be wearing gowns and face shields. How soon can districts purchase these items and how reliable is their supply chain.
Student desks will be placed 6 feet apart, but will there be enough space in classrooms for a class of 20 students? Expect buses to limit capacity to 20 students, or about half of their normal count. Expect spacing or removal of playground equipment.
An in-person/virtual hybrid is the likely practice rolling forward. As schools are built for economy, they won’t be able to deal with the typical density of students and maintain social distancing. Look for schools to adopt schedules that limit building capacity to 50%. This might mean that some students attend school two days a week.
The high probability of a second or third wave of COVID19 means that schools will be ready to shift to a full virtual learning platform with short notice. Schools will focus on virtual learning platforms and also helping families obtain reliable Internet access.
Will schools enact policies to take the temperature of staff and students each day? Will policies be amended to mandate that anyone with a temperature above 99 degrees be required to go home?
School safety is a $3 billion annual industry with money on fencing, bollards and barricades. Expect a flurry of new anti-viral devices including UV lights, anti-viral fogging machines, hand sanitizing stations / hand washing practices, and disposable door handles.
This is episode #132 of The Safety Doc Podcast
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