Preparing as a school and a community for COVID-19
How our small progressive school anticipated the Covid-19 and its potential impact
13 March 2020
Written by Gabi Immelman & Taryn Solomons
South Africa is now experiencing the impact of COVID-19 and its global economic effects. With only a small number of patients diagnosed in SA, it is, however, likely only a matter of time before we see significantly more cases. While the current impact of COVID-19 is limited at the moment, we’ve decided to get ahead of the virus.
Our priority is to keep teachers and children safe and ensure that Maara House doesn’t contribute to the spread of the virus. While some schools have already responded by closing, we are taking a considered approach working with up-to-date information and responding from a place of awareness rather than fear.
We’re thinking about how we manage the risk of the team and children getting or spreading the virus. We want to live our values of being active, conscious global citizens but also avoiding catching and spreading Covid-19.
We made new school agreements, effective of 13th March 2020:
● Keeping hands clean:hand sanitizing before entering school and wash hands regularly, especially after touching nose, mouth, face.
● Limiting physical contact:elbow bumps, foot fives, cyber hearts, and more smiles are a new way of communicating. Hugs are for when we need them.
● Staying healthy: eat healthily and drink lots of water, exercise and, get lots of sleep.
● Staying home: If your child is sick(coughing and sneezing), please stay at home until symptoms pass! No exceptions.
***Informing our children
We spent the day immersed in experiential exercises learning with the children to understand how germs (and viruses) spread. Providing a safe space for the children to process what’s going on around them, talk about fears, ask questions, develop knowledge on hygiene and well-being and, build resilience. Find out more: How we prepared our children for Covid-19.
Keeping hands and areas clean and less germy is NB!
We are prioritizing regular meetings and clear communication regarding this pandemic and taking extra hygiene precautions.
Thursday, 12th of March, we held a meeting to discuss how we’re thinking about the virus and ran through the following:
● What we know
● What we think will happen
● How we as a school are responding
Due to the fast-moving nature of the virus, we’re also meeting regularly to discuss any changes in any of these three categories. We’re communicating relevant updates and information with teachers, children, and parents.
Preparing for remote teaching and how we were thinking:
As a team, we’ve been exploring the possibility that we may need to close for some time. We’ve started planning what this will look like in terms of providing the children with work and projects to do at home as well as using technology for learning and teacher support.
We will continue to inform and share more about our approach and thinking around COVID-19 in the upcoming days and weeks.
What we need from parents:
If your child has a temperature (even low-grade 37.3c), is sneezing, coughing or, in any way not well, please stay home.
If family members present any of the Covid-19 symptoms, have the necessary checks so we can protect our community as a whole.
If anyone has been traveling in the last 3 weeks (local/international) to please inform us.
Should your child or family have Covid-19 please, inform us and self-quarantine for the recommended 2-week period/until symptoms pass (as recommended by WHO).
Should a child/family need to self-quarantine; please take note of the following:
● Teachers will provide children with home-links via Class Dojo/ Google Classroom so that children can continue with school work.
● Children can submit their work via Class Dojo/ Google Classroom for teachers to review and receive feedback.
● We ask that parents support children in doing projects, literacy, and numeracy and encourage kids to do work while at home (remember we’re building grit).
Should teachers need to self-quarantine/ school need to close for quarantine, then please take note of the following:
● We will use a blended approach to learning via Class Dojo/ Google Classroom, and each child will get a “weekly playlist” provided for children.
● The playlist will have a combination of literacy and numeracy prompts for children to work with.
● We will incorporate mini-projects and learning invitations for children to complete.
● Children will need to submit work daily for feedback, so please support teachers in helping kids be accountable.