Re-opening questions

Recently, I ran across this video about how Germany is re-opening schools.

If you’ve ever taught high school, you’ll understand it when I told my wife that they need a disclaimer like:

“These are paid actors; your mileage may vary…”

Of course, we know that there will come a time when schools will re-open. When and how will depend upon government, parent, teacher, and student decisions. Just unlocking the door doesn’t necessarily mean that the masses of students will show up.

So much will be contingent on workplaces re-opening as well. Secondary school and university students should be in a better place to stay at home, take care of themselves, and even attend online classes. I’m sure that this went into the decision making in Quebec.

Quebec elementary schools, daycares to reopen starting May 11; high schools to stay closed until fall

Those who have been primary and junior educators have expressed their thoughts loudly about this pointing out the bee-hive of activity that takes place in younger classes. And, by bee-hive, I mean all the activity and the desire to all be in the same place at the same time.

At the 30 000 metre level, the layout of the classrooms in the video make a great deal of sense. Kids are at a distance and there is tape between them so why not?

I think for concerned parents and teachers, more than that will have to be addressed. I’ll start a list. At the bottom, I’ll ask you to add to the list.

  • buses – how can you assure that students will be seated at least 2 metres apart?
  • bus stops – we’ll need to have a queue that extends down the block for appropriate spacing while waiting for the bus to arrive
  • school crosswalk – there will be long lines waiting for the crossing guard to stop traffic and let students cross
  • school crossovers – given the spacing needed between students, is the timer going to be long enough to get everyone in before school starts?
  • car pooling – will those students fortunate enough to have their own cars be allowed to have passengers?
  • checking – many places now do temperature checks and questions for employees coming into work. Do schools need to do that for every student entering? Do students need to be tested before they get on that bus?
  • if a student or teacher happens to be sick, will there be an additional layer of checking before they’re allowed back in the building?
  • lockers – right now, every student with a locker has someone right beside them or they share lockers. How do we adjust for that? How about cubbies?
  • presumably classrooms will be disinfected over night. Do we stop class rotations or subject changes during the day because disinfecting between classes isn’t reasonable
  • how about staircases? I remember my own high school where we had “up” and “down” staircases. Will that return? Will we have metered access to stairwells?
  • maybe we could finally enforce the courtesy of walking on the right side of the hallway?
  • how will communal equipment be used from class to class? – thinking computers, science equipment, shop equipment, toys, etc. here
  • speaking of computers, how will we get all those loaners back?
  • please, nobody think this would be a good time for a fire drill
  • how will we handle students going to the cafeteria? Many schools dine on different shifts as is. Add another shift? Or do they dine Chez Math?
  • will certain subject areas be postponed for now? Phys Ed, for example. Conceivably activities like track and field could be done outside, health education inside. Respect for distancing would have to apply to change rooms as well
  • small group work won’t be so small with distancing rules in effect
  • the common wisdom seems to be to cut classes in half for seating at 2 metre distances so a class of 30 becomes a class of 15. Will teachers be expected to work twice as long?
  • how about Mom and Dad? What happens if a student brings something home with them? Or, what if they bring something back to school?
  • washrooms are small enough to begin with. How do we ensure distancing happens in there? While on the topic of washrooms, presumably all classroom and building doors could be left open to avoid the touching with opening and closing but how about washrooms?
  • but the fire marshall may have declared some doors as fire doors and they must be shut
  • how about those classrooms without windows?
  • will playground equipment be given the OK for use during class breaks?
  • masks and gloves?

Some decisions like the cancellation of inter-school events and field trips are easily made. Others not so easily.

The end result would be a school day completely different from what we normally experience. Waiting longer before a return may minimize some of the issues but until we have a vaccination and everyone safe, there will always be a risk with the things that we have taken for granted for years.

What have I left out from my questions above? An awareness by the community of all of the issues and having workable answers is needed at this time.


OTR Links 04/30/2020

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Look up

One of our favourite summer activities is going out to the back yard when it gets dark and before the mosquitoes come out and just look up. You see, we’re on a flight path(s) into Detroit Metro Airport. When the conditions are right, they can be pretty much straight over head.

Above and beyond airplanes though, periodically we’ll see something much higher and more interesting. We’ve always suspected some sort of satellite or maybe even the International Space Station.

Now, we can know for sure by visiting the website

Tomorrow night, or better Thursday morning, we might be able to see a fly-by.

The link provided takes you to the Wikipedia for more details.

This is one of those sites that requests your location and, for truly relevant results, you’ll give it. For the paranoid or for other locations, the earth is movable.

Now, honestly 3:58 is probably out of the question but 5:31 is definitely doable.

Kind of related, I found this piece of information quite interesting if you enjoy spacial objects.

Mile-wide asteroid to pass close to Earth Wednesday

OTR Links 04/29/2020

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

So, Microsoft settles it?

I don’t know how many, if any, people have boycotted my blog because I put a double space at the end of a sentence. I took Typing in Grade 9 and Grade 10 and it was part of my teachable option at the Faculty of Education. I will confess that I struggled the first term in Grade 9 with Typing. Speed and accuracy are important. I had neither.

As luck would have it, at my Dad’s workplace late that fall, replaced all their manual typewriters with electric ones. Dad bought one that was being phased out and it became a Christmas gift. It was one of those old Underwood machines. It was very heavy and also became my first set of weights.

I practised and practised on that thing. I mean, it shouldn’t be that difficult to learn to type. Eventually, I made it! If memory serves me correctly, 30 words per minute was the goal in Grade 9 and a higher number in Grade 10. That, I can’t remember. What I do remember was practising by typing all my notes for a while. (except Mathematics and Science) I became very, very proficient.

The skill served me well when when I took programming courses although that opened a new set of skills. You see, in school we focused on letters and digits. Programming required all kinds of additional strokes like parentheses and brace brackets. I got pretty good at those as well.

Throughout all this, one thing remained from Mr. Renshaw’s Typing class – two spaces after a punctuation mark! I’ve seen the arguments and the discussion and how proportional fonts have changed everything. I see the logic but the people who are big and really fanatic are late learners. They didn’t take B&C in high school and are now learning. Good on them. It’s a skill that everyone should have however and whenever they get it.

I know that Grade 9 is now too late to learn to keyboard. (we don’t use the term “typing” anymore) I licensed a software package on behalf of my former school district and we put it in the hands of Grade 4 students. Like some great initiatives, it’s gone but I know that there are some good teachers who see the value of the skill and work it into things.

Anyway, this story hit my news reading and ruined my Sunday morning. Here are a couple….

I know that some people will take great delight in this news.

I’m not a user of Microsoft Word. Most of my writing is done in a browser and I use LibreOffice when I need a standalone app. But, we know that when someone introduces a “standard”, others will follow.

I’m not one that will change a lifelong learned and refined skill. It won’t be the first time that I ignore red squiggly lines in my work – typically caused by using an American dictionary which doesn’t like words like colour, etc. I also still believe that the world is round.

In my mind, there are far more important things in the world than worrying about things like this. I mean, holding your printed copy over top of a correct copy and up to the light to see if the letters line up isn’t much used any more!