By Ken Roy
Posted on 2022-01-03
Happy New Year!
Many school districts are currently being challenged by the resurgence of the coronavirus Omicron variant. Some schools have advised parents and employees before the late December holiday break about the possible return of distance learning in January or February, given the expediential increase in cases of the variant nationwide.
Despite the challenges caused by the current Omicron surge, teachers need to design and implement meaningful science/STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) teaching/learning experiences to help their students learn and grow. It is critical that teachers make sincere efforts to overcome complacency and burnout to provide for a safer teaching/learning environment, now more than ever. Over the past two years and our given experience in dealing with the coronavirus variants, medical science has helped provide the tools needed to address the pandemic. Based on these findings, a number of safety protocols have been developed for use in schools and communities in general.
If efforts to help teachers provide their students with science/STEM education continue, the following safety protocol reminders from earlier NSTA Safety Blog posts can be shared. These protocols hopefully can be useful to teachers to help them better navigate their efforts during these most challenging times in education.
Current social distancing protocols recommend that students keep a minimum distance of 3 feet apart from one another during hands-on activities in the lab. These protocols help prevent the spread of the variants, but do not necessarily alleviate educators’ issues when designing group labs. However, several options found to be successful in helping teachers develop hands-on, inquiry-based laboratory experiences include the following:
It is important for teachers to understand the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting as part of the safety protocol processes.
The coronavirus has presented teachers, supervisors, and administrators with new challenges over the last 24+ months. The ability to stay current with safety protocols in the science/STEM classroom will help keep students and staff safer. It is vital to be proactive in the noted safety protocols while maintaining an engaging science/STEM educational teaching/learning environment.
Refer to these previous NSTA Safety Blog posts for more detailed information.
• Safety Recommendations for Opening the New School Year, published 6/18/20.
• Safety for Hands-On Science Home Instruction, published 7/28/2020.
• Cleaning/Sanitizing/Disinfecting PPE for a Safer Lab Experience, published 11/2/2020.
• Updated COVID Pandemic Student/Teacher Safety Protocols, published 5/3/2021.
Submit questions regarding safety to Ken Roy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Ken Roy on Twitter: @drroysafersci.
Safety Blog Acknowledgement
NSTA Chief Safety Blogger Dr. Ken Roy wishes to sincerely thank nationally recognized District Supervisor of Science Kevin S. Doyle, EdD, Morris Hills Regional District, Rockaway, New Jersey (email@example.com) for his professional contributions to and review of this commentary.