Mandating masks in public schools has been an ongoing issue for some school districts like Cobb County, Georgia. Zoe Shepard, senior in Cobb County schools and member of the EdLanta Student Coalition, says that the district has more issues around equity that aren’t even being addressed because of the deep divide in how the system should be protecting students.
However, there is room for improvement on how public school districts are protecting students and staff across Georgia. Mandating masks isn’t the only action school boards can take to protect students and teachers and reduce the number of those exposed to COVID-19. EdLanta has been providing solutions and recommendations for how public schools can improve learning environments since the onset of the pandemic.
Here are 5 actions school board members can to take:
1 Mandate an annual audit of Individualized Health Plans.
In addition, they should also ensure each school has educational support staff who are equipped to handle the severity of severe health conditions of students.
2. Set a clear vision and strategic goals for learning loss.
A vision and goals that have action items that will allow for innovation and flexibility around the implementation of various learning models in school is key.
3. Communicate effectively with the people.
Informing school staff, parents, and communities about increasing numbers is the right thing to do
4. Improve accountability measures of the Superintendent.
Help each school have the resources needed for testing twice a week, in addition to enforcing masks, temperature checks, and efficient contact tracing systems.
5. Advocate locally and on a state level to reduce classroom sizes.
Not only does research reflect how smaller classroom sizes reduce learning loss gaps but it also more effectively allows for social distancing to effectively be implemented.
School boards members can improve budgeting that allows for more educational support staff in schools such as counselors and nurses which are critically important to the social, emotional, and physical wellness of students. Additionally, creating and advocating for partnership with local faith based institutions, parks, and recreation centers that can hold special classes during the day that can expand exposure and learning experiences while minimizing class sizes can support learning. There’s much more than can be done beyond mandating masks in schools.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.