Resources for COVID-19
Decisions for a School's Response Team to Consider
- Online Learning or Distance Learning? There are many factors to consider as your school determines how it will continue instruction in the event of a school closure: duration of closure, school type and student needs, and student access to name a few. If school business will continue virtually, will it be through distance learning, which uses online platforms to conduct the business of school as closely as possible to the normal experience of your school, or through online learning, wherein instructional time and modes are redesigned to take advantage of the online platform? Online learning will require support and development for teachers and will be appropriate for a long-term closing. Distance learning will require less teacher development and will make the most sense for a shorter-term closing. See the links below regarding Distance and Online Learning for further resources. Schools will also want to consider how they will meet families' technology support needs.
- Factors for Determining a School Closing: Consult the Tennessee Department of Health's Communicable and Environmental Disease contacts at (615)741-7247 when making a decision to close school. Also consider the community effect of local school closures: parents whose children attend multiple schools may receive differing communications with opposing rationales for closing or remaining open. Aligning with the Department of Health offers some coverage. Consistent communication with clear explanations about what resources a school is using to inform its decision-making will reassure its constituents. Your COVID-19 response team should have a running list of factors it will consider to make decisions; these might include the location of infections, the number of student and faculty absences, and cancellations (or not) of local conferences and conventions.
Steps a School's Response Team Can Take Now
- Set up a distance learning practice day: Consider a school-wide distance learning practice day to reveal technical glitches and other community issues that might arise in the event of actual distance learning and to help teachers and students understand the realities of distance learning. Students who are able to stay at home can participate remotely while students who cannot make arrangements to stay home can come to school but simulate distance learning in the classroom.
- Determine instructional time needs and requirements: It's well worth the time of your planning team to asses the current amount of instructional time completed by your school and have a running count of how much instructional time remains to complete a school year so that in the event of a school closure, determinations can be made about the extent of distance or online learning needed. Most TAIS schools are considered Category III schools by the Tennessee Department of Education, which means that their instructional time requirements are set by their accrediting agency. SAIS's instructional time standards can be found on page 37 of their Accreditation Standards Guidebook and state that "generally the requirement is a minimum of
the equivalent of 180 days of instruction at 4-6.5 hours per day (720-1170 total hours)." Tennessee Code section 49-6-3004 states the requirement for instructional time for public schools as 180 days that are six and half hours in length and stipulates for crediting of extra instructional time in the event of "serious outbreaks of illness" in section (e).
- Implement Social Distancing Measures: Your school may want to heighten its response to COVID-19 without closing school. Social distancing practices include separating desks by three feet, lessening the number of participants in large-group activities (i.e. staggering lunches or community meetings to reduce the number of people in one space at a given time), and suspending or amending high-contact activities such as sports, field trips, and community events with out-of-school guests.
- Engage the community in proactive measures: Quell anxiety and introduce a sense of empowerment by asking community members to take measures to inhibit the spread of germs. For example, replace handshakes with foot bumps, create a contest for lyrics to a school song to sing while washing hands, and ask different grade levels to create PSAs about hygiene measures such as coughing into one's elbow instead of one's hand.
For General Communication to Constituents
For Distance or Online Learning Preparation:
For Student Travel
- Independent schools have latitude to request that families inform them of their personal travel plans and to request that students who have travelled to areas where COVID-19 cases have been reported remain home for a period of time after returning from travel and/or undergo testing for the virus. Schools setting forth such policies will want to be proactive in their communication about their policies and will need to have clear, well-functioning plans for continuing students' learning in the event of a school-requested absence.
- State Department Travel Advisories
- CDC: Information for Travel
- SAIS/GEBG Webinar Recording--Sarah Wilson has notes from the webinar; email her at Sarah@TAIStn.com if you'd like a copy.
For School-wide Response Plans
For Talking with Students
For Understanding and Monitoring the Coronavirus