A recent article in the New York Times summed it up best.


“A typical American school day requires proximity: High school lab partners leaning over a vial. Kindergarten students sharing finger paints. Middle schoolers passing snacks around a cafeteria table.


This year, nothing about school will be typical. Many of the nation’s largest districts plan to start the academic year online, and it is unclear when students and teachers will be back in classrooms. Others plan hybrid models, while some are determined to go five days a week.


When school buildings do reopen, whether this fall or next year, buses, hallways, cafeterias and classrooms will need to look very different as long as the coronavirus remains a threat. Even teaching, which has evolved in recent decades to emphasize fewer lectures and more collaborative lessons, must change.”


Social distancing is crucial, but we know it’s not the best way for our children to learn, or for teachers to educate.


The most common approaches to education

Educational consultant and author Peter DeWitt recently surveyed more than 600 preschool through high school teachers from 12 countries. About 73 percent of them said that their schools were not prepared for virtual learning before the COVID-19 pandemic.


Prior to the start of the 2020/2021 school year, public and private educational institutions have struggled to find a way to bridge this gap. According to Education Week reporter Madeline Will, there are six ways that schools are looking at bringing back students in the fall. The article is extremely informative and in-depth, and it also requires a free registration to read, so here are the highlights:


  1. Phased – Schools only bring back certain students.
  2. Multitrack – Groups of students in school buildings on different days.
  3. Staggered – Half of the students in the morning. Half in the afternoon.
  4. Bubble Strategy – Groups of students stay together. Teachers switch.
  5. Cyclical – School buildings alternate between being open and closed, which will result in remote learning.
  6. Year-Round – Students divided into groups; there are cohorts and specific times they will be in school and certain times they will be involved in remote learning.

The general consensus is that these approaches are all effective, but none of them will make everyone happy or comfortable. What’s more, the longer our children are out of school, the wider the gap becomes to get them caught up again. This gap has become known by educators as the “COVID-19 slide,” and a recent study determined that children will return to school this fall – if they return – with 70 percent of a typical year’s reading gain, and only half a year of math gains.


Research and consultancy giant McKinsey & Company has been keeping track of how COVID-19 has changed the way consumers and businesses behave. Optimism had begun to rise as we moved towards the 4th of July. Parts of the country – as well as other countries – had begun to partially reopen.


Helping students and teachers prepare

Whatever back-to-school looks like in your community, one thing remains the same. Students and teachers still need supplies.


For more than 40 years, we’ve made it our mission to be an organization that supports the importance of education. One of our core areas of production is plastic products for schools. And because we manufacture everything at our Minneapolis location, we can complete orders quicker and for less cost than overseas competitors.


The benefits we’ve offered to the education industry can be yours, too. We’re local. We’re strong. We can supply you with Made-in-America products. We’re here to support you as we all move forward. How can we help you get back to business as usual?


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