Covid-19 Return to Classroom Plans for our College, High School, and Junior High kids

The posts on Facebook say it all. Team “they must go back” and Team “keep them online” keep flooding my feed. School districts are slowly rolling out their plans to return to the classroom with Covid-19, but also giving parents only days to decide between options for the upcoming school year. Seems almost more stressful than Spring Break of 2020, and now with the 2020-2021 school year on the horizon, there are choices to be made. With three boys entering three different schools, we had three choices to make.

Covid-19 Surge

Depending on the state that you live in, many areas of the country have seen an increase in Covid-19 cases. With only weeks until school starts, decisions are now being made on how to return to the classroom. The question also posed is if we should even attempt to return to the classroom.

We made it through the Spring Break closure with the entire rest of the year being online.

Each state has its own reopening and phase plan (including what schools can do during each phase), so it’s important to know what your state plans are.

Illinois has Five Phases (we are in Phase 4) but can move back to Phase 3 if our infection rate begins to climb.

Wonder how your state infection rate is trending? Here is the link to the rolling three-day trends for each state.

These numbers are compiled by Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center. Click on your state to learn more.

Illinois Trend as of July 11, 2020

Precautions such as hand washing, social distancing, and masks are going to be the norm for this upcoming school year.

If your students are going back to the classroom, before the start of school make certain you student can do the following:

  • Properly put on and/off a mask. Avoid touching the inside!
  • Wearing a mask for hours at a time (practice!)
  • Washing hands (20 seconds)
  • Avoiding touching face/eyes
  • Encourage repositioning of a mask by grabbing outside layer or by ear loops (wash/gel hands before touching!)
  • Use hand gel (proper amount and rubbing in correctly)

Do what is right for YOUR kids

There are no right answers here. There are people who work (essential workers, educators) leaving students who wouldn’t have the support at home needed for remote or hybrid learning.

Student resources in school (such as meals, safety, additional therapies) is also something that is difficult in a remote setting.

There were questions we asked ourselves when reviewing our three kids and the upcoming year:

  • Are the kids up for wearing a mask, adhering to social distancing and maintaining strict handwashing procedures, possible for 7 hours a day five days a week?
  • Do we feel it is safe to do so given our local current Covid-19 spread?
  • What restrictions are in place for the schools? Gym? Outdoor time? Movement within the classroom? Lunchtime?
  • What is the plan if schools have to shut down for outbreaks?
  • Transportation concerns? Bus route?
  • How is this going to impact them directly (increased anxiety? not take it seriously? needing time with friends?)

We took all this (and more) into consideration before making decisions for each of our three boys.

College

Well, this is certainly not how we envision the summer before our oldest son’s freshman year at college. He is trying to make the best of it, and thankfully he is willing to do what is needed to protect his health and still experience freshman year. He is eager to go, which is important, as I don’t want any of our boys in a situation that will make them uncomfortable.

Thankfully, our oldest is pretty ok with wearing a mask. He has a summer job that requires it and has been wearing one for at least 4 hours a day.

He will be staying in-state, attending Illinois State University, which is helpful if something were to happen we could easily drive there in a few hours.

As for the college – a hybrid approach for classes is being taken. Many are online, some are in person in smaller classrooms with most major courses are in-person to interact with the professors. He doesn’t have a traditional classroom setting for hours at a time each day, which helps with this decision a bit.

Classes will all be remote following the Thanksgiving break to decrease the chance of spread after returning home for the holiday week.

We have been watching the online zoom updates and feel the preparations for the campus are great and feel that the dorm experience will be just as good. He did his room selection this past week, selected one of the larger rooms so hopefully, a bit more distance will help both roommates!

Less than one month before he officially becomes a Redbird!

High School

We still haven’t heard the final plan for the high school district plan. We were pretty pleased with the end of the 2020 school year plan, which was all online, and eager to hear the plans for this year.

Block scheduling is how our high school day is formatted, with four classes one day and four the next. This is helpful, with less movement during the school day than a high school with each class each day.

Transportation won’t be an issue, he will be driving himself.

With this being his junior year, many AP classes on his schedule, he is hoping for at least some in-person classroom time. He also works during the week, wearing the mask for hours at a time. Sports camps have resumed with no contact, masks in place indoors, and social distancing outdoors – so we have an idea of what the school already expects.

The next hurdle for student interaction is band camp, which is at the end of the month. It will be interesting to see how everything is handled. Thankfully, he plays percussion, so that mask will be on the entire time!

Junior High

Remote learning returns to our household for 7th grade.

Our district runs K-6 grades in one building and 7-8 grade in another. During the junior high years, there are nine classes and you move rooms between each class. Lockers are usually used, and there is one large lunchroom.

This year, the plan given to us to review included limited classroom movement (teacher rotating some classes), no use of lockers, and limited information on remote learning plan if the school would have to close.

Given all of this – new school, possible fixed classrooms, no locker use, uncertainly of remote learning if schools did close – our best bet was to elect to remote learn for the 7th grade year.

Considering everything, he seems pretty excited. He has daily plans already for taking the dog on morning walks, will plan daily exercise routine and wants to try and connect with other friends who are remote learning.

Grade School

This year, none of my kids are in the grade school setting. I have younger nieces and nephews, and each family is making the best decisions for themselves.

One of the benefits of grade school is single classrooms. The smaller number of kids, no transitions during the day from classroom to classroom. The length of the day still concerns me – hopefully as the school year progresses all the precautions in place will be second nature.

Back-Up Plan

No matter what you think is going to happen this school year, have a backup plan (actually, have more than one ready).

Spring Break Plan of Attack

First – expect to transition to all online learning at some point. There is no way to predict if your students’ classmates or teacher will test positive for the virus. Because of this, you’ll need to have a plan for childcare and remote learning, possibly without notice.

Second – have a plan for if you or your kids test positive for the virus.

Third – try and make the most of it. Look for additional learning resources if they are learning remote. Work with small groups at home (outside) and distance as long as we can with the weather. Create your own zoom groups and online sessions with school friends and friends in other districts (sport buddies, camp friends) who might not live in your area.

Remember, we are all in this together. Hopefully by making safe choices and trying to protect everyone as best we can, we will get through this pandemic quickly and safely.

15 thoughts on “Covid-19 Return to Classroom Plans for our College, High School, and Junior High kids

  • July 13, 2020 at 11:11
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    In my state of Missouri cases are way up and continuing to climb. Joplin has become a hotspot with a mandatory mask ordinance in place. So I don’t know what will happen with schools reopening. My grandkids range from university age to 6th grade…and a wee baby due in November…and all of the kids want to return to school. It’s a daily topic of conversation right now!

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  • July 13, 2020 at 17:26
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    Ugh! Some days I hope for a complete return (which is what the school has said will happen come fall so far) and hoping for remote learning. Such a challenging time.

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  • July 13, 2020 at 19:17
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    What an ordeal – whoever would’ve thought we would find outselves in this position. I’m in Canada but there is already talks of split classes with at-home schooling. Not sure how working parents are to manage that. I’ll be following the US news closely as kids go back to school in August (and we’re September).

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  • July 13, 2020 at 20:13
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    Such great points – there is a lot to think about and you’ve made some great suggestions. I’m really worried about my kids’ mental health and social development being out of school, but also am not sure how they will do with masks, etc. There definitely is not an easy answer!

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  • July 13, 2020 at 21:02
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    I really feel for all of the families that are trying to do their best with all of these changes. My son finished his last semester of college on line and really missed out on a lot. I pray we all settle into this “new norm” soon.

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  • July 14, 2020 at 03:14
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    I’m so anxious about this topic. I’m in So Cal and LAUSD and San Diego both announced they’d be 100% distance learning to start. Our district hasn’t decided yet, but the surrounding areas have said they’ll do a hybrid and parents will choose. No matter what way we choose, someone loses. The staff, the children, the parents. We plan to stay home because it works for our family. But I know not everyone can say the same. I’m just so heartbroken for all those that are suffering during this and pray it ends soon.

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  • July 14, 2020 at 07:03
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    Our college age son returns to campus early August for Football then school starts mid August to be concluded prior to Thanksgiving moving the whole schedule up and gobbling up our summer. 🙁 Our local HS has not announced yet what the plan will be. YOU ARE RIGHT! Big decisions are about to be made without much time to decide the course of action by parents! Very tough to make a quick good decision. STRESSFUL!

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  • July 14, 2020 at 10:09
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    I’m a graduate admissions administrator at a large public university so it was interesting to read what your oldest son’s school is doing and his feelings about complying with the safety measures. It sounds like he’s got a good head on his shoulders but I wonder about the age group, generally. I hope they are influenced by peers like your son.

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    • July 14, 2020 at 19:48
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      I hope so, too! University seems very determined to maintain the masks – just hope they all comply!

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  • July 14, 2020 at 14:15
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    It’s a hard decision. I have 4 kids (3 school age). None of them can wear a mask, they all get nauseated

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  • July 14, 2020 at 21:10
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    Good to know what other states are doing. In my county, parents are allowed to choose if they want to send their kids to school or stay home school. The elections are starting this week. I am thankful we are allowed to choose what we all believe is best for us.

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  • July 18, 2020 at 14:48
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    I don’t have any kids so I haven’t really followed any of it, but it seems like every area is doing different things. My mom is able to send my nephew to school because it is not bad in their area, but my sister is keeping her daughter at home because she’s just in preschool and it would be easier for her to just do educational activities at home since she’s already a stay at home mom.

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  • July 18, 2020 at 21:05
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    Here in CA, we are distance learning to start in August. With our young kids it is hard but safest as we are densely populated and have had lower #s per capita and hope to stay that way. Be safe everyone and keep on learning!

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  • July 25, 2020 at 11:43
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    Great information as we start to head back towards school. My school is going full, but I hope there is some other common sense going to change this decision as our cases continue to rise.

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  • July 28, 2020 at 00:13
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    Great post!! This is certainly one we are all experiencing at some level. For me, my kids are grown; however, my daughter and I are both teachers. We are not looking forward to this school year, especially as our cases are surging and our district is opening up schools in the green (meaning normal traditional school with limited PPE).

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