In our series “What Comes Next,” Riley Winn takes a look beyond the current state of COVID-19, and looks ahead at the next steps for businesses as we move into the next phase of reopening. In this episode, he takes a look at what comes next for education and schools reopening in the fall. If your school’s campus is reopening in September, safety will be a priority, and the upcoming school year will test the limits of how schools can operate — or even open in the first place.
In order for schools to reopen, two things must happen. There needs to be technology to keep students safe, as well as the funding to pay for it. The Superintendents’ Association and the Association of School Business Officials International released an analysis projecting costs for each K-12 school district of about $1.8 million to get back to school safely, which is an enormous number that is not currently in the budget. That money would go to hiring more custodial and cleaning staff, as well as medical staff to take the temperatures of students. Some schools may provide digital smart thermometers for home use that would send data to an online platform where school nurses can keep records of students who are ill. Students and teachers will also be issued PPE equipment such as masks.
If school campuses don’t fully open, a mix of in-school learning and online classes also presents its own set of challenges, including the massive logistical challenge of teaching and learning curriculum in two very different ways. Additionally, many students do not have access to the computers or high-speed internet required to participate in online lessons. While some school boards have authorized funds to distribute the required technology to students who need it, other schools have to rely on handouts and the generosity of giant tech companies to step up and provide it for them.
Higher education also has its own set of challenges. Currently, only 7% of colleges are planning to hold online-only classes. The schools that are planning to open campuses are doing everything they can to make things safe, including one-way hallways and fewer people in dorm facilities.
Getting back to normal will take a while for education, and hopefully, tech funding, safe social distancing practices, and each of us playing our part can make that happen.
Watch other episodes to see how tech is helping keep us safe at:
- As coronavirus cases rise, a Miami mom struggles to keep up with distance learning
- Los Angeles and San Diego schools to reopen in August with online-only classes
- Microsoft rolls out Minecraft: Education Edition to Chromebooks
- Uncovering nature’s biggest secrets with a $460M, continent-scale observatory
- The best Android apps (September 2020)