School's Plan to Reopen
By Carlos Pinto
The COVID-19 Pandemic: Is It Almost Over?
As much as there are people suffering in different ways because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a general consensus that everyone wants it to end as soon as possible. Every time positive news about a vaccine or treatment is disclosed, the public’s excitement is practically palpable. Several different vaccines have been in development in the last few months, yet questions regarding their efficacy and safety still need to be addressed. Even when these questions are addressed, it is uncertain how much time it will take to deliver them to everyone, especially in developing countries like Brazil.
EABH’s Plans to Reopen
The School Administration has published EABH Connect documents via the EABH App (which if you have not already checked out, you should) that describe the school’s plans to reopen. The school administration has clearly and repeatedly stated that these are “living documents,” meaning they are subject to change, but here is a quick summary of EABH’s plans to reopen:
According to the latest Connect document, the school campus will reopen only when the following conditions are met:
“Government and/or judicial authorities have granted us permission to do so; and
We have established health and safety practices and procedures in accordance with guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local Brazilian health and/or school authorities.”
When we return to school, you will notice a few things will be different.
First, only half of your class will be physically present at a time. In order to make sure we have a limited number of students on campus that allows us to physically distance, the school will have a system of two different pods (or groups) of students, where in the first week the students from one pod have the option to attend school physically and the students from the other pod do distance learning and, in the following week, they switch.
It is also important to note that not all grades will return to in-person learning at the same time. The school will first prioritize the return of younger students and, according to EABH Connect 3.0, students in Upper School should only expect to return to face-to-face learning three weeks after Pre-K and Kindergarten students return.
Even before arriving at the school, you will notice there are staggered entry (and exit) times to avoid agglomeration at the gates. This means that students will be asked to arrive (and leave) at specific periods of time. There is not much information about this system yet, however, because the school is waiting for decisions by the government to finish setting up this new procedure.
When you arrive at the school, wearing a mask of course, you will have your temperature checked and, according to the latest EABH connect, “no one will be allowed to enter if their temperature is 37.3°C or higher.” There will also be sanitizer carpets to sanitize shoes, and students will be required to sanitize their hands “upon entering school each day and before entering a new classroom or location when moving within campus”.
Once you enter a classroom you will notice a few things that are different. First, there will be a limit of 11 students in each classroom and a circle with a 1.5m (or 2.0m, depending on what local education authorities determine) radius separating desks. There will also be sanitizing dispensers with hygiene instructions in each classroom.
Food will still be served in the canteen when we eventually return to face-to-face learning. EABH will install protection barriers on canteen tables that have four seats and, to respect social distancing, these tables will only seat two people diagonally at a time. Additionally, there will be tables even in the gym to accommodate the 1.5m (or 2.0m) necessary distance between students.
With all of this said, this article is simply meant to be a short summary of the new protocols the school will implement when we eventually return to face-to-face learning. If you want to find out more information about this, please review the EABH Connect documents linked above and stay updated on the news published on the EABH App!
Finally, in an interview with the Interim Assistant Upper School Principal, Ms. Ruth, she relayed that she believes that many administrators and teachers also want to return to face-to-face learning. They are trying to make the best of this situation and have worked diligently behind the scenes for months to come up with the best protocols and systems possible. She also mentioned that distance learning is “not easy for any of us.” She recognizes that it is not easy for us as students because now they have more distractions next to them at all times, and, for teachers, online learning is more challenging because it is harder to read students (especially if our cameras are off) and make connections with them.
Do not forget that returning to face-to-face learning will be as much of a new experience for you as it will be for teachers and administrators. It will take time for us to get used to the new protocols, but together, as an EABH community, I am sure we will figure it out and make the most of it.
Interview with Ms. Ruth on 12.04.20.
New water fountains