Have you been teaching virtually and now you are going back to teaching face to face during this pandemic? Are you wondering what it is like to be in the classroom and what safety steps to take? I’ll share with you some things that I have been doing and DIY directions for making a distancing noodle & a handwashing station.
I’ve been teaching face to face since September 1st. I have 17 students in the classroom and 1 who is distance learning. The area where I live has not been able to get the virus under control and the rates of spread are higher then most everywhere else in the state. It is scary.
It is also wonderful. I love getting to see my students. I looped with most of this group, so I had a huge advantage of already having relationships established. They are the sweetest and keep me smiling every day.
Teaching face to face during a pandemic is scary – and also wonderful. Teachers have been missing their students. Students have been missing their teachers.
Plexiglass & Plastic Dividers
Originally, I thought I would be able to install a sneeze guard at my desk and I actually worked on a prototype divider for student desks that used PVC and plastic. I thought this would allow us to not wear masks inside. However, our state does have a mask mandate and students and teachers are required to wear masks while they are inside unless they are eating. My tips and the things that I am sharing about teaching face to face during a pandemic are based on that setting.
Social Distancing Noodles
Our state requires distancing for teaching face to face during Covid19. All desks need to be six feet apart and facing the same direction. I came up with a fun little “measuring tool” to help us keep the required distance — pool noodles!
You’ll need 2 pool noodles for each social distancing noodle. I bought mine at the Dollar Tree, but they might not be there anymore. They are available on Amazon. Just measure, cut off the extra, and then tape them together with duck tape.
We use them while outside and I use them while setting up the desks. I also have put a mark on the floor so it is easy to see exactly where the desk should be.
Sit Spots for Desk Placement
My floor covering is carpet, so I used generic sit spots that I cut up into squares.
I wrote the student’s names on 2 of them and they need to have the front legs of their desk on those marks. My room is also moved around each weekend so it makes it much easier for the janitor to setup again for Monday.
Outside Breaks are Needed when Teaching Face to Face during a Pandemic
I wanted to give us as much outside time as possible. Parents were asked to send a folding camping style chair and a lap desk. About half of the students didn’t bring a chair and they just sit on the grass. If you are able to teach outside sometimes, you’ll want to think about what you would need to make that work.
I use a voice amplifier for when I am outside. It works great. There is also a beat up whiteboard that I bring out with me and I hang it over a fence (it has brackets on it). That works great too. It’s actually easier to teach outside. It’s just a hassle to get everyone and everything out there.
Let’s talk about handwashing. The students all have a temperature check when they enter the building, complete a short form on symptoms (most of them do that at home), and they wash their hands. This is all done before they get to the classroom. They use hand sanitizer frequently and I send them to the washing station or bathrooms one at a time when needed. That takes a long time though and sometimes there are other classes there. So, I have made a few hand washing stations for my classroom. I will probably make at least 1 more. There are only 17 students in the classroom, but it still gets crowded with only 2 stations. It would be good to only have about 3 at a time at each station and then call the others up when they are done.
DIY Handwashing Station
Instructions for Handwashing Station
Here’s what you need for a DIY handwashing station:
- Rectangular shaped 30 gallon rolling storage tote
- 2 or 3 milk crate style storage bins
- a water tank that has a flip spout
Wheels are definitely recommend for that large tote. You will need to dump the water out each night and just scooting it isn’t the easiest! The 30 gallon size is perfect. I have carpet in my room and the water has not spilled or splashed.
I used 2 of the milk crate boxes, but you’ll see in the video that the students have to bend down some. 3 crates would work better for older students.
I’ve seen large GOTT water coolers used for the tank, but it requires you to change the spigot since the ones that I have seen all have a push button spigot. I found this one at WalMart that works perfectly. It has the flip lever spigot and holds 7 gallons. It is $15 which is also less than the other options that I have seen. Each station cost me about $45. You could spend less if you already have the storage tote or crates or you might be able to get those donated.
What Do You Want to Know?
Eeek! This post is getting so long and I still have so many things I didn’t share with you. I will write another post about teaching face to face during a pandemic that will include information about small group lessons, masks, sanitizing desks and objects, conferences, restroom passes, drinking water, and events. I’m sure that I am forgetting things, but that is what is on my mind. If you have a question, please post it as a comment and I will try to answer.
Finally, be kind to yourself and to others. These are challenging times and we are all doing the best that we can. There are so many new things and things we don’t know. It takes me longer now to do everything. Just walking around the classroom and getting to each seat takes longer. There are the pressures of trying to make up for missing academic time or distance learning. There is so much more to do – temperature taking, sanitizing, etc. Take time to breathe. Take time to enjoy teaching. Take time to enjoy your students.