Going back to school is going to look completely different this year. With temperature checks, masks, and desks pushed far apart, your students are probably feeling a lot of anxiety about returning to the classroom. Use these social distancing tips for the classroom to keep everyone safe and to help your students transition back to school.
Social Distancing Tips for the Classroom
Social distancing is going to affect the physical set-up of your classroom and how you deliver your instruction. In this post, we’re breaking down all the different things you should consider as you head back to school.
The social distancing guidelines say that desks need to be 6 feet apart. This might mean that you have to remove other things from your classroom to be able to put that much space between the desks. I know some districts are requiring teachers to remove any items they added to the classroom, like pillows or flexible seating items.
Once your desks are spread apart, you might want to put tape on the floor so there is a box around each desk. That will just help your students see their space and maintain the distance between themselves and their classmates. You can also put tape or dots on the floor to help your students stay socially distanced when they’re getting into line.
One huge change from previous years is that students aren’t able to share supplies this year. That means all of their materials need to be kept completely separated from their classmates’ belongings.
When your students enter the classroom in the morning, they can take their backpack, coat, and lunchbox to their seats. You can either have them put their backpack and coat on the back of their chair and their lunchbox under their desk or you can get a plastic crate to put beside each desk to hold your students’ personal belongings.
Getting books from your classroom library is also going to look different this year. I like to give each of my students a book box where they keep all of their reading materials – books, post-its, pencils, notebooks, and folders. The book boxes can stay beside their desks, and you can stock them with books. When they’re finished with the books, they will have to put them in a special place to quarantine for at least 48 hours before another student uses them.
Your supply list for parents might look different this year, too. Here are some things you might want to add to it so each student has everything he/she needs:
- Glue sticks
- Small pencil sharpener
- Hand sanitizer
- A water bottle
- Disinfecting wipes
We always start the school year by going over classroom procedures. This year, there will be some new safetly guidelines to consider.
Here are some questions you will need to answer for your students:
- When are masks required and when can they take them off?
- Where should they put their masks when they’re not wearing them?
- How will social distancing look in the hallway?
- What are the procedures for using the bathroom?
- Where should the students keep their water bottles?
- What will lunch look like?
- What will recess look like?
- How will students sharpen pencils?
Try to answer as many of these questions as you can for your students on the first day of school. Give them the opportunity to ask any other questions they have. Learning about the new procedures will help to calm their fears and make them feel more comfortable being back in the classroom.
Patience is going to be more important than ever. Your students are going to need lots of reminders about the new routines. Many of them have been at home for the past 6 months. They haven’t had to worry about social distancing or wearing masks.
Make sure you are clear and consistent with your expectations the first few weeks of the school year. Your students will adapt to the new requirements, and they will just become part of their daily routine.
Here are some other important procedures you should address during the first few days of the school year.
First Week of School Activities
Normally, the first week of school is filled with teambuilding and group activities to help your students get to know each other. This year, the activities are going to have to be done while socially distancing.
This Beginning of the Year Unlock the Box Mystery is always my students’ favorite back to school activity. It’s usually done in small groups, but the students can complete it independently. You can either print the clues for each student or you can use the digital version to assign it to your students in Google Classroom.
Reading picture books is one of my favorite back to school activities. I normally gather my students on the carpet in the back of our classroom for read alouds. This year, they will have to stay at their seats. However, they will still love these picture books!
For some other first week of school activity ideas, check out this post. All of the activities can be adapted for social distancing.
What Do You Think?
How will you maintain socail distancing in your classroom?
Let me know in the comments below.
If you enjoyed this post and think your teacher friends will, too, please click the button to share it on your favorite social media platform.