Reopening schools will be harder than closing them.

With governments around the World slowly reopening economies — and schools — we find ourselves forced to make changes to how we operate, as well as cater for new regulations and needs that we simply never thought of before. Change is different, change is new, and it is often uncomfortable: reopenings puts novel pressure and scrutiny on school systems, and raise new questions many were not prepared to answer that fast. Reopening a school in the Covid-19 era is harder than closing it — but there are solutions.

What change means

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Teaching social distanciation to kids, in Tourcoing, France

New requirements, whether they come from hierarchy, from parents’ scrutiny or from the law, will likely prioritize hygiene and prevention, pushing brick-and-mortar schools to undertake intense reorganizing and training on social distancing management, protective measures for kids, and the use of virtual teaching tools.

Teaching materials themselves, as well as pedagogy, will have to be re-structured to fit this new context. Parents and families will likely need to be involved in this process, should part of the teaching be conducted from home. Practice and exercises will need to be adapted for easy assimilation by isolated students. Any new tool being implemented will need to be accessible to students with disabilities.

The haste behind all these transitions puts enormous pressure on school directors. Leaders are asked to react quickly despite having incomplete guidelines and information ; and in many cases under intense scrutiny from supervisors and worried parents. Navigating and decision-making during this period has become like moving through a minefield: schools must move forward and innovate, for their own financial stability and for the good of children, but have very little guidance on what to do.

This is a lot. School leaders, teachers, teachers-in-training: the education community at large will need support and funding in the coming months and years, and most importantly, be given the time and resources to train staff and innovate safely.

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Kids crafting social distancing hats, in Hangzhou, China

A steep learning curve

Are we really expecting all teachers and school leaders to become ICT experts right away? What happens when schools simply don’t have the resources to scale up their usage of ICT? What do we do when students and families don’t have a computer at home, or good network? What is a reasonable budget to solve these issues?

Distance learning tools and processes must be designed with these questions in mind: distance learning tools should save teachers’ time and energy, not cost them more. Distance learning programs should ensure more kids can learn, not less. This crisis is revealing how inclusivity, accessibility and ease of use are essential to implementing distance learning.

It is not just about choosing the right software: it is about implementing it efficiently and to the satisfaction of all stakeholders involved. It is about ensuring it is put at use, on the long run, and about measuring its positive outcomes to learners and their communities.

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School leaders training with Chalkboard Education, in Kumasi, Ghana

Chalkboard Education

Helping schools improving learning outcomes is our driver and our ambition, and we are dedicated to help all schools transition into the Covid era with success. Contact us for any inquiries:

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Chalkboard Education is offering its software for free to all schools affected by Covid-19 closures in Ghana.

Educational technology in Africa and emerging markets

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