After a spring semester of remote learning due to COVID-19, schools are now facing the challenge of planning their fall semester. Teachers and students face many uncertainties, but as plans solidify, preparation can help ease the challenges that are likely to arise.
Your child's school may be planning on some degree of distance learning. Whether it's 100% online classes, or an alternative schedule, remote learning creates a high demand for technology.
Prep your child with the tools necessary to operate in a technology-dependent learning environment. Headphones are a must, so your child can focus, and you can go about your day. If you are working from home, you may have learned how chaotic it can get when you both are online at the same time. Make sure everyone at home has a good pair of headphones with a proper microphone built. Most elementary and middle schools provide tablets or computers for students to use, but if not, investigate a user-friendly tablet for your student. College students learning from home will require a proper device that supports all the programs necessary. Many schools are doing away with communal school supplies and are asking their students to supply their own either for home or for personal use in the classroom.
Depending on your student's age and their school's plan, their needs will vary; however, all students will need a fast and strong Internet connection to complete online learning and homework assignments. Research the fastest Internet in your area and have a conversation about the speed you are currently getting versus what speed your household's new activities require. If your home is 1,200 or more square feet or has more than one story, ask your Internet provider about Wall to Wall Wi-Fi, a solution that gives you seamless coverage throughout your home. Hargray offers high-speed Internet plans that will equip your student with the fastest Internet for back to school.
If your child is returning to school, there are ways to help protect them, their classmates, and teacher from illness. It is essential to get into a routine of checking your child's health each day before sending them to school. Perform a quick temperature check with an infrared thermometer. These are accurate, easy to use, and can read both the forehead and ear. Some infrared thermometers feature three intelligent fever indicator lights that easily inform you if the temperature is normal or not.
Also, form a daily routine for your students to return home from school. Immediately have your children remove their shoes and wash their hands upon entering the house. If they forget to take off their shoes, which is likely to happen occasionally, consider a steam mop that kills bacteria on the floor. Next, clean their frequently used items and devices. Some people find comfort in using a UV sanitizing product to clean mobile phones. You may also carefully sanitize your devices with a cloth and cleaning solution. Make sure to follow your device's manual for safe cleaning directions and avoid water damage.
While this is an unprecedented time, and there is no universal plan for returning to school, being prepared, and having the proper infrastructure for online learning can help you and your student alleviate stress.
—Chris Lyons is Hargray general manager. This column appears occasionally in The Lake Oconee Breeze.