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4 Nice Ways to Welcome Students Back to School Virtually or In-Person

K-12 schools across the country are making the tough decision to determine whether it's safe to reopen this fall amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly all districts switched from in-person learning to virtual lessons in early March to help flatten the curve and prevent the spread of the virus. In some parts of the country coronavirus cases are surging, which is prompting many school districts to consider remote learning for the fall. In other parts of the country coronavirus cases are thankfully declining, causing schools to plan for reopening and welcoming students back to the classrooms. 

While many districts have come up with plans that aim to keep students, teachers, families and the community safe, there are unfortunately many questions still unanswered. “There is no proven strategy for the remobilization of 56.6 million K-12 students amid a pandemic like this one,” according to the Washington Post

Schools are beginning to lay out how they are going to accommodate returning students or how best to support virtual classes. Since large gatherings are still discouraged, such as pep rallies and school sporting events, many schools are getting creative with how they plan to welcome back their students after almost six months away. 

Related Blog: What Reopening Schools Could Look Like Based On Schools Who've  Already Opened

Reopening Schools During COVID-19

When it comes to welcoming students back to the classroom, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have outlined the following considerations for schools to safely reopen to students

According to the CDC, the risk of COVID-19 spread increases in school settings as follows: 

  • Lowest Risk: Students and teachers engage in virtual-only classes, activities, and events. This was the approach many took in early March to help combat the spread of the coronavirus. 
  • More Risk: Small, in-person classes, activities, and events. Groups of students stay together and with the same teacher throughout/across school days and groups do not mix. Students remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects (e.g., hybrid virtual and in-person class structures, or staggered/rotated scheduling to accommodate smaller class sizes). Most K-12 schools are planning to have a hybrid learning environment.
  • Highest Risk: Full sized, in-person classes, activities, and events. Students are not spaced apart, share classroom materials or supplies, and mix between classes and activities. 

Additionally, the CDC recommends cloth face coverings be worn by teachers and students, and maintain physical distance (six feet) when possible. Other administrative suggestions, such as having a designated COVID-19 point of contact and a staggered schedule, are also outlined by the CDC.  

Related Blog: The CDC Released New Guidelines for Schools Reopening

4 Ways to Welcome Students Back 

Welcoming students back this fall will look quite different compared to previous years. Whether your district is planning for remote and virtual learning, a hybrid model, or bringing students back in-person, there are a few ways to make the first days back fun. 

Virtually

  • A virtual welcome. Releasing a welcome video from school administrators and teachers is a great way to get students excited for the first day of a new school year. While they may not be in their classrooms or chatting with their friends in the halls, students can still connect with each other virtually. Creating a fun “Welcome Back to School!” message can jumpstart student engagement and get them prepared for what to expect in the upcoming year.
  • Virtual class introductions. Starting a new grade with new classmates can be tough. Many teachers use icebreakers - such as asking students to share something they did over the summer or their favorite animal - to get the class comfortable with each other. Introductions may fly under the radar with virtual classrooms, which is why some teachers are planning on including them on the first day back. This will allow students to get to know each other, even if it's through a computer screen. 
  • Welcome back packages. Creating a little goodie bag with pencils, textbooks, and other small school items could be a great way to connect with students and help them with getting used to their digital learning environment. These goodie bags could provide materials for each student that will help get them in the school mindset from home. 

Related Blog: Managing Mental Health Remotely For K-12 Schools

In-person

  • School masks. Most schools are requiring students and teachers to wear face masks and cloth coverings throughout the day. Creating reusable, school-branded masks with a student’s graduating class year or color is a good way to encourage mask wearing.  

It’s clear that this school year will be like no other one in the past. Whether students and school staff are in-person, virtual, or following a hybrid model, their safety is key. Being prepared for any and all scenarios during this "new normal" of school operations is of paramount importance. 

Universal - K-12 Coronavirus Recovery Reopening Schools Video

Amelia Marceau
Amelia Marceau

Amelia is a marketing intern at Rave. She loves to write about anything safety related. When she’s away from the keyboard, you’ll either find her playing with her dog, ice skating, or competing in a triathlon. Amelia attends the University of Massachusetts Amherst, majoring in Political Science and Journalism.

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