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COVID School: Breathing the Air, Staying Apart, and Shortening the Day

July 9, 2020

As one might expect, since I am a classroom teacher, I have been thinking a lot about the COVID-19 school day.

In this post, I offer a number of thoughts on physically returning to school during this coronavirus pandemic.

To begin, I have been thinking about how children may not be manifesting COVID symptoms and still have the virus. Too, it is possible that even though these children actually have coronavirus, their parents and guardians are not ill.

Some would like to take this as proof that such children will not infect their teachers.

But here is a thought:

What happens when several such children are together in the same classroom for at least one class period multiple days per week? The presence of COVID-19 is concentrated in the classroom, and the teacher is regularly exposed to this concentrated COVID-19 in a manner that parents and guardians with a single child carrying COVID-19 are not.

The potential for COVID-19 concentration matters, and I am concerned that even if I have only 10 students in my room at any given time, other students and I, who may fall ill from the virus, are being repeatedly exposed to a coronavirus concentration.

This brings me to my next thought:

Fresh air circulation matters.

Given that COVID-19 is airborne, recirculated air only aids that potential virus concentration in its ability to infect.

I am fortunate to have a back door to my room, which means that I could aid air circulation by opening those doors. (If allowed, since I am required by law to keep my doors locked to prevent intruders from entering.)

A third thought is that in the push to promote masks, even as a self-protective measure, no one seems to be discussing protection for a person’s eyes. COVID-19 can enter through mouth, nose, and eyes.

Shielding against COVID-19 requires protective eyewear as well as masks.

A fourth thought is that a completely, socially-distanced school day is impossible right from the start of that school day. When those buses arrive before school starts, students need a place to go, and single-file exiting of those buses into some area in which students sit six feet apart and wait for school to start would require a rigidity and personnel enforcement of prison.

For students of all ages (and their teachers, admin, and staff, no doubt), this social distancing will be like a prison sentence.

Can you imagine a first-grade class in which students must remain six feet apart all day? No free play? No hands-on, physically-close assistance or encouragement at all from the teacher?

Not possible, and not healthy.

In many schools, in-person teaching and learning will take a distant back seat to managing the COVID-19 school day.

And for my final thought of this post:

It might seem counterintuitive, but if students and teachers must be subjected to heightened, state-of-emergency attention to coronavirus safety protocols, then in addition to having fewer students on campus at any one time, the in-person school day must be shortened. In the face of intense attention to personal safety, teaching and learning can happen, but only in spurts lest students and teachers burn out due to prolonged, intense attention to safety protocols– protocols that limit or prohibit physical contact between classmates one to another; between students and their teachers, and among teaching colleagues.

It is also physically safer for those involved– and for the people we live with and care for– to limit time together on campus.

One possibility is for schools to have students on campus for half of the day and to use the second half of the day for remote learning, with the students on campus present every secod of third day in rotating groups (that is, dividing the total student population into two or three groups). Teachers could remain on campus in their classrooms for the second half of the school day and be available online for students not physically present on a given day.

Not a solution for all contingiencies.

Just an idea to consider.

Just a thought.

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8 Comments
  1. Howard Glen permalink

    “Can you imagine a first-grade class in which students must remain six feet apart all day? No free play? No hands-on, physically-close assistance or encouragement at all from the teacher?

    Not possible, and not healthy.”

    Neither is several more months of social isolation. The schools are not the only institution of socialization for our children to continue to be closed. In some states: no gyms, no afterschool care, no children’s church programs, no trampoline parks, no playgrounds, no museums.

    Please stop advocating fear based decisions and let the science win.

  2. Abigail Shure permalink

    If teachers stay in classrooms after students are dismissed, it will increase their exposure to possibly contaminated air,

  3. VidaSheid is the solution to keep everyone safe with air quality. This patented system draws the air in through special filters, pushes it across UV lights, cleaning all germs and bacteria particles , pushes clean air out providing clean air every 15 minutes. It is used in medical and school Buildings throughout the world. This system runs 24 hours / 7 days a week.
    You can research this system by going to
    VilldaSheild.com.
    School Districts through out the United States are purchasing them using the CARES ACT monies just released.
    I discovered this because I have a grandchild with lung disease and will not be able to
    attend school until a vaccine is discovered. He has 5 siblings that will not be able to attend in fear they will transfer COVID to him. I am a former teacher and know how important school is for a child to attend.
    This is the SOLUTION, an investment in our children.

  4. It’s time to realize for all of our safety, not to have schools reopen. I don’t know what the answer is for parents who need to work, but perhaps this is a time when families must stay together and learn by doing things. Lifelong learning at its finest. Some of the best things I have taken through life and use daily, were not taught in a school setting, but by exploring. The public library taught me so many things. I really feel horrible for those who have to make decisions as this time. I have been retired for 3 years after 30 years of teaching and have been substituting. I can no longer sub as I worry about contracting COVID19 and my age makes me at an even greater risk. Believe me, this has me bothered as I love children and teaching. I try to think of a solution for schools, but honestly can’t, except for children to stay home.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Re-Opening Schools & Public Health | Citizen Teacher
  2. Listen to this – 2020 #2 – Do We Open School or Not? | Live Long and Prosper

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