When 161 Baltimore City Schools closed in response to COVID-19, about 70,000 schools opened in the homes of our students. The district has scrambled to provide meal services, computers and internet access to students. But what have we done to keep our students engaged and healthy?
Here are four areas where we could help students protect and improve their health and learning over the next four months.
1)Create safe and effective home learning environments. Baltimore has a legacy of lead poisoning and childhood asthma rates that are twice the state average. Lead poisoning can lead to permanent learning disabilities. Asthma is the leading health cause of school absences. Now that school hours are spent at home, students who live in homes with existing health hazards have extended exposure to harm. What is we used home health as a science project? Students can use an online survey to assess whether their homes have health hazards. The students who find mold, water leaks, pests could request a video conference tour where they could show home health experts the conditions and receive advice on what their family can fix or whether they should have help from professionals at the Green and Healthy Home Initiative. Another way to help students is to challenge them to create good places to study, avoid distractions and take breaks to keep themselves happy and alert.
2)Chart exercise, nutrition, sleep, friendships and fun. This is a great way to teach students to collect and chart data and it can help students build healthy behaviors. For students that seem to need help, reach out to education students and retired teachers for mentors that can help students thrive.
3)Educate students on COVID-19 health strategies and encourage them to create videos on the best ways to stay safe at home and school. Students are more likely to listen to their cool peers on what they should do, so please don’t wait until students return to school to get students on board on how to be safe. They really need to know this now for their safety and the safety of their families.
3)Involve students in planning for the return to schools. Students are able to see problems that teachers and administrators miss, and they are great at finding solutions. If you keep students out of the loop, you will have problems that you could have avoided.
4)Engage students in monitor health conditions at the school when they return. Students perceive problems quickly and are eager to help solve them. Making this a science project for one class or even a small team of science students would enable students to monitor crowding, ventilation, cleaning and health behaviors at the school and innovate to improve the safety of students.
COVID-19 is terrible, but it is also a perfect authentic learning project that touches every subject and every student. Let’s not miss this opportunity to help our students learn and thrive.