3 Fun Ways to Maintain a COVID Safe Classroom
The COVID-19 pandemic has not been easy to adjust to for any industry, and education professionals have become responsible for not only adapting to a remote/blended learning style but also keeping students as safe as possible. This may seem like an overwhelming task, but each small effort to provide safety and peace of mind to your students enhances their overall safety and health. No matter what the future looks like with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s smart to develop an effective plan for general disease control.
Each school district is reacting to COVID-19 differently; but with some schools returning to a fully in-person classroom, it’s more important than ever to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. No need to stress, we have three simple steps to get you started with maintaining a COVID safe classroom.
1. Keep a Creative Sanitizing Routine
Whether your classroom has a sink area or your students mostly rely on hand sanitizer to keep the germs away, there are many ways to encourage them to keep it clean throughout the day.
Transform your sink area into a space that will make your students happy.
If your classroom has a sink area (mostly found in early learning environments, art rooms, etc.), you can make it accessible and a fun part of your students’ everyday routine. A few ideas are placing sticky notes with positive affirmations around the sink to encourage them while they wash their hands, or offering an incentive every time they use the hand washing station before or after activity without being asked.
Put a creative hand sanitizer station by the door.
You could embellish it with a large, colorful sign, or a clever reminder that says something like “Leave your Germs at the Door.” Depending on the class’s age range, you could also put individual hand sanitizer dispensers at each desk so the students will remember to use them more frequently.
Incorporate some structure into a sanitizing routine.
This will encourage students to keep a regular sanitizing routine if they don’t already have one, especially if you are an early learning educator. This could be done by a fun chart where each student gets a sticker, checkmark, etc each time they wash their hands during designated times. The times could be arrival, before snacks, lunchtimes, activities, dismissal, or whatever schedule works best for that individual class. A wonderful tool for this is the Clear Digital Gel Sanitizer Station, providing hands-free sanitizer with the ability to communicate a digital message.
Establishing a fun, normal hand washing and sanitizing routine for students will only help them develop these healthy habits for the future!
2. Take wearing a mask to a new level.
At this point, we all know we must wear a mask, especially in a classroom setting. It is inevitable to be closer together in a classroom than an open, outside space; so mask-wearing is probably here to stay for a while, even once fully in-person learning is back across the nation. It may be difficult to enforce mask-wearing in the classroom, especially for several hours at a time.
The good news is, there are ways to encourage your students, no matter what age, to mask up before they show up to class. Wearing a mask doesn’t have to be a daunting chore, but can be made both fun and simple if educators lead by positive example.
Hold a “best mask” competition.
Make mask-wearing fun with a little friendly competition amongst your students. Whoever wears the funniest, prettiest, or most interesting mask could get a prize each week, month, or quarter. This could be an exciting activity for all ages, and the prizes could vary from something as simple as a toy for younger children to a gift card for the middle or high school age range.
Host mask “spirit days.”
Students could be encouraged to wear masks of specific colors, their favorite masks, etc. This will create a sense of unity in the mask-wearing and allow students to express themselves in a new way.
Conduct a mask decorating activity.
This would most likely work best for early learning classrooms. Each student could use artistic materials to decorate disposable masks or white masks and coordinate wearing them on the same day. These activities bring a bit of fun into mask-wearing, and would provide the students with a new mask too!
Since everyone has to mask up by law, at least for the time being, the time is now to embrace wearing a mask and attempt to make it fun in the classroom.
3. Make social distancing a unified act.
The concept of social distancing may make students and teachers feel far from each other, especially when close-knit group and partner activities are usually a major part of lesson planning for all ages (pre-COVID.) Even though classrooms are more physically distant than before, there are still ways to engage students in group activities or make them feel a part of a larger group from the safety of their own socially distanced desks.
Create a new atmosphere within your classroom.
Making your classroom into some sort of “escape” will make students feel unified, even when they’re distanced. This could be done by “setting a scene” on an interactive panel or decorating the classroom and individual desks in a creative way. One example is this teacher who created a relaxing, “underwater” reading environment for her classroom on her Clear Touch® panel. Check it out on our Facebook page! Another example for an early learning classroom would be a teacher decorating each desk like a race car, and decorating their classroom like a race track.
Conduct interactive activities.
Leading large interactive activities on your classroom technology can make students feel included and involved without the need to be close to each other. One way to do this is by using Clear Touch®’s Collage software. You can cast up to six individual devices to the panel at a time (including four Chromebooks), making it easy for multiple students to collaborate on an interactive activity at a time, and take turns doing so on their own devices. If you do not have Clear Touch® technology, you could use whatever technology you have in your classroom to conduct activities and allow students to participate in activities verbally or using materials.
While teaching in-person students during a pandemic, their safety is of the utmost importance. These ideas encourage fun, creative ways to stay healthy; but teachers should also regularly check in with their students to see how they’re coping mentally with the pandemic. These check-ins and the incorporation of fun and safe COVID practices into the classroom will show students that you care and encourage them to learn.