It might seem hard to believe, but social distancing laws have now been in place for nearly seven weeks across Australia. It was way back on March 13th that the federal government introduced a ban on mass gatherings, and since then we’ve seen the introduction - and increasingly relaxation - of ever stricter rules around what we can and can’t do in order to halt the spread of coronavirus.
While there has generally been very broad agreement about the strategy in place to flatten the curve, with results suggesting a high level of compliance, school communities have found themselves at the centre of much debate and disagreement. Most jurisdictions have implemented some form of remote teaching and learning (which we have covered and supported extensively - and will continue to do!), but it has become clearer than ever that this is only going to be a temporary arrangement, one which may be over far sooner than initially expected (and in some cases, already is).
We know that the reopening of schools is something that many within our community of users will be anxious about, so we want to begin to think of new ways we can support you through this when the time comes. The nature of this pandemic has required the ability to think quickly, respond to ever-shifting conditions, and have a plan in place for whatever change may come next. In that spirit, this blog outlines some steps and ideas you might want to consider implementing when mandatory face-to-face teaching does resume in your state or territory.
Communication with your community is more important than ever
When students return to classrooms you’ll need to have a clear set of rules and expectations in place. Dr Allen Cheng, an epidemiologist and infectious disease physician at the Alfred Health and Central Clinical School, identified the need for a variety of precautions, highlighting rules around good hygiene, physical distancing, and the ability to identify and respond to any case quickly.
Communicating all of this with parents and carers, staff and students will be key, whether it’s reminding your students how to wash their hands before their first day back (not that they should have forgotten!) or updating parents on the rules you have in place to reassure any who may be concerned, Compass has all the tools you need to keep your community informed. Take a look at them here.
Very few essential services now accept cash payments, why should your school? While it is not clear that COVID-19 can spread on cash, we know that the virus survives on surfaces and early reports have shown that the onset of the pandemic accelerated the trend towards digital payments throughout society.
Allowing parents to make payments from their phone will also reduce footfall in your school, with the need to pop into the school office to make a payment and collect a receipt being replaced.
Find out more about our payments module with this fact sheet.
Following the same logic, many other paper-based processes your school in your school can be fulfilled online by Compass. Many schools began using Compass by replacing their old paper-based rolls, and we were once likened to a ‘digital filing cabinet’ - no more need for offices packed with dusty files. But ‘paperless’ also applies to things like the school newsletter, consent forms, order slips for the canteen - you might be surprised by just how many tasks can be completed through the portal or app.
Take your events online
It is very unlikely that a return to face-to-face teaching and learning will mean school communities are entirely back to normal - in fact, so long as social distancing measures are in place for society as a whole, that will be impossible. This means that many of the events and occasions that bring your school community closer together beyond the classroom will either have to be cancelled, rescheduled, or take place online.
The CompassTix team recently put together some ideas for you to make this a reality.
Go hands-free in the hallway
Guardian is a bit of a well-kept secret among the Compass modules - in fact, it’s a bit more than a module. An integrated door management system, Guardian allows you to remotely lock and open class rooms, entry doors and boom gates; manage staff and student access to rooms based on permissions, and set opening schedules for doors. The newly opened Richmond High School implemented Guardian alongside a range of other Compass solutions to manage their school’s innovative architecture.
What does this have to do with returning to school? It’s highly contextual and dependent on your school’s specific needs and design, but Guardian could be used to limit the amount that door handles are touched and doors pushed open - allowing movement through your school to go ‘hands-free’ like the automated pedestrian lights that have been installed in several Australian cities.