7 Things You'll Never See in Schools Again After Coronavirus
Say goodbye to big classes, shared supplies, and prom when schools return after the pandemic.
As newly homeschooling parents eagerly await the day children return to school and students impatiently anticipate seeing their friends again, teachers, administrators, and education officials are working to devise a plan for how students and staff can safely return to classrooms. Teachers work hard to create a safe and welcoming environment for students in their classrooms, but this will become increasingly challenging in a post-coronavirus world. Schools as we know them are filled with communal sharing, packed hallways, and kids sitting in close proximity to one another—but much of that norm will have to be adjusted upon students' return. We talked with experts to gain some insight into what might be missing from schools after the coronavirus pandemic. And for more on how the world is changing, check out these 10 Weird Ways Life Will Be Different After the Coronavirus Lockdown.
No more large classes
We have some good news for parents who complain about large class sizes—they're likely a thing of the past. Having 32 students in a classroom at once doesn't seem like the safest idea right now, but how can schools change class sizes while still providing equitable services for every student?
"We won't be able to be in a large setting, so the question is, how do we manage that? Do we stagger students and have them come at different times or have them come every other day?" wonders Gresham-Barlow School District superintendent Katrise Perera, EdD, whose team is working to find the best solution. Schools have to consider various ways to cut classes in half so that social distancing is feasible in the classroom. And to find out about more changes to daily life, learn which 5 Things You'll Never See at Movie Theaters Again After Coronavirus.
No more busy cafeterias
Gone are the days of lunchrooms packed with screaming kids letting off steam between classes. "If you're bringing kids into the building, you have to feed them, but it might look different," says Perera. "Maybe a lot of grab-and-go, because congregating in a large cafeteria probably will not be permissible."
Middle school teacher Joseph Glatzer thinks students may have to "eat lunch in smaller groups in teachers' classrooms instead of all together in the cafeteria or outside on the benches." While each school might vary on how they rearrange lunchtime, it definitely won't look the same as it did before.
No more contact sports in gym class
Staying six feet apart is impossible while playing any contact sport. "P.E. classes and organized sporting leagues will need to be focused on the individual and not the collaborative to prevent the sharing of equipment and physical contact," says elementary school principal Meredith Essalat, author of The Overly Honest Teacher. Sports like wrestling, football, and basketball will need to be reconsidered as a whole. And for students in elementary school, "we will see structural changes to recess," says Perera.
No more school dances or graduations
"Say goodbye to classroom birthday celebrations or movie and popcorn parties for a job well done. Schools will need to operate as places strictly for business—sterile and straightforward," says Essalat. The sharing of food within school walls will likely be strictly prohibited to avoid potential transmission. Along the same lines, "we will not be seeing school dances, whether square, polka, or prom," Essalat adds.
Graduations will also need to be reconfigured, as they traditionally require several hundred students standing close together in an auditorium. Schools may have to consider other ways to honor their students' achievements going forward. And for more changes we're predicting, here are 8 Things You May Never See on Public Transit Again After Coronavirus.
No more hands-on group projects
Teachers know the enriching benefits of having students work with each other on collaborative projects at school, but any hands-on group projects will have to be put on hold. Educator and author Karen Gross says we may see more "individual projects done at students' desks rather than engaged interactive projects." While students will be unable to physically work together in the classroom, we may see a rise in online collaboration among students. And for more things we're liable to lose, discover 13 Things You May Never See on Airplanes Again After Coronavirus.
No more high fives
Students are used to being able to hug or high five their friends at school, but students and teachers alike will have to do away with these signs of affection. Junior high school teacher Jennifer Cervantes says, "I used to greet kids at the door and high five or give them a fist bump, and I know I won't be doing that anymore."
Many teachers who implement small physical gestures will have to change their approach. "Young students who receive validation through high fives will now have to rely upon facial gestures from their teachers in order to feel acknowledged and celebrated," says Essalat.
No more shared supplies
Most teachers keep a stash of extra supplies in their classroom in case students forget theirs or can't purchase their own, but it seems like any communal items are now off the table. "From my perspective, anything that enables shared touching—even letting a student borrow a pencil and then return it—is out of the question for the foreseeable future," says Glatzer.
Teachers are worried about what this will mean for the welcoming, inclusive environment they strive to create in their classrooms. Cervantes points out that objects like class pencil sharpeners and hall passes might also have to go. Orange Catholic Schools superintendent Erin C.O. Barisano, EdD, adds, "There will be no shared school supplies, e.g. library books, art, writing, iPads, or Chromebooks." And for even more post-quarantine changes to look out for, check out these 5 Things You'll Never See at Your Doctor's Office After Coronavirus.