Many school districts successfully transitioned back to face-to-face instruction during the 2020-21 school year. However, many teachers across the country will be starting the 2021-22 school year in the classroom for the first time since the start of the pandemic as vaccinations continue to be administered and the effects COVID-19 dramatically decrease. The following are suggestions for teachers to make a successful transition from virtual to in-person learning.

Provide a Virtual Lesson Backup Plan
Be prepared in the event there is another surge of infections. With the help of other teachers in your department, prepare a 100% virtual lesson plan that will be delivered solely online in the event students must return to virtual learning. Teachers can prepare plans for their individual classes on their own without waiting for instructions from their supervisors. In the end, make sure that your students will be able to finish the school year from home. While it’s unlikely, it is always prudent to prepare for the worst possible situation. Imagine how much more smoothly the transition to virtual instruction would have been had we had the knowledge and experience we have now. Take advantage by being over-prepared.

Provide Cleaning Supplies
Teachers should keep a container full of cleaning supplies by their desks or at the front of the room. These include hand sanitizers, disinfectant sprays, gloves, washcloths, and buckets that students can use to clean their desks. Before and after the students enter the room, teachers are encouraged to take a few seconds to wipe down the desks. Although this is optional, it helps to keep students free from worries about their environment.

Take COVID-Related Illnesses and Symptoms Seriously
In addition to educating students and managing the classroom, teachers should be on high alert for students who exhibit COVID-related illnesses and symptoms. It could be a simple cold or fever, but the teacher should take note of the symptoms and send a student exhibiting symptoms to the nurse’s office. If available and permission has been granted by a parent, the school nurse could administer a COVID test, and based on the results, send the student home to protect others. Additionally, while mask requirements have been lifted in many regions of the country, you should not feel uncomfortable wearing one if you choose. Conversely, it’s important to be respectful and understanding of any student’s decision to continue wearing a mask in environments where they have been made optional.

For roughly a year, thousands of teachers grappled with educating their students online. In 2021, thankfully many are returning to their classrooms. It’s critical that teachers, students, and families are fully prepared for a safe and productive return to traditional face-to-face instruction.