Coping with COVID in the classroom


Classrooms may look a little different to students when they return to school in a few weeks.

Hand sanitizers, disposable masks, rearranged desks, teacher faceshields and personal water bottles will be clearly visible at Crawfordsville Schools.

Like many others, the Crawfordsville district is following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local and state health departments, and plans passed down from the Indiana Department of Education to prevent, as much as possible, the spread of COVID-19.

“We are trying to get everything set of what we will provide for staff and for students,” Assistant Superintendent Dr. Rex Ryker said. “That conversation always going.”

The virus complicates many facets of a typical classroom, he said, such as distance between students and frequent sanitizing. It also presents the issue of detecting symptoms of COVID-19 and how to limit exposure.

“The state requires that we provide all teachers training in symptoms ... and we have to provide training to all students, as well,” Ryker said. “The state health department released new updated symptoms. But now that they’ve added runny nose, congested nose, cough, nausea — most of our kindergarteners have nausea — but we’re assigned that training through a 10-minute video that brings them up to speed.”

Ryker and a slew of committees comprised of teachers and administrators have been tackling a wide range of potential issues throughout the summer months.

“The plan is that, in every classroom, there will be a gallon of hand sanitizer,” Ryker said. “We will also have a bottle of the Virex (disinfectant) spray with rags — which is approved for taking care of the virus. Right now, we have enough bottles for every classroom.”

In addition to disinfectants, the district will look to provide: 50 disposable masks per classroom (both adult and pediatric), faceshields for teachers, interventionists, social distancing (as much as possible) through rearranged desks that face the same direction, packaged food for breakfast and lunch in the classroom and lunch table dividers.

“We have a plan, now it’s just trying to fulfil that for the classroom,” Ryker said. “Those are the things, operationally, we’re trying to do for the classrooms and different parts of the buildings so we can social distance as well as possible, and when we can’t, to mitigate the situation as much as possible.”

Outdoor instructional spaces will also be encouraged, Superintendent Dr. Scott Bowling said.

“There’s going to be a lot more outdoor learning,” he said. “We’re going to use outdoor as much as we can. It helps so much for social distancing and so much to control the spread. That’s a consistent message we keep hearing from the health department.”


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