As of April 2021, the CDC reported nearly 80 percent of teachers, school staff, and childcare workers have received at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine*, recently the FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine for children as young as 12 and experts are predicting even younger children will be eligible to be vaccinated by the end of the year. This is all good news pointing to the possible full return to brick-and-mortar school in the fall.
After the ups-and-downs of the past year of remote and hybrid learning, what are teachers going to need to for a successful, happy and healthy 2021-2022 school year?
- Classroom supplies. Unlike years past when teachers often asked parents and community organizations to contribute to a shared collection of crayons, pencils, tissues, highlighters, glue, etc., next school year teachers will likely want to ensure each student has their own personal set of classroom supplies as well as their own hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Elementary teachers with students who will likely be unvaccinated at back to school will also need a supply of disposable masks. In addition, they will need cleaning supplies to maintain classroom hygiene.
In past years, it is estimated that teachers spent $1.75 billion on school supplies from classroom budgets and out-of-pocket expenditures. With the new and individualized items needed this year, that number has the potential to grow. Companies selling to schools would do well to help teachers address these needs.
- Counseling and mental health support. The stress and uncertainty of this past year took its toll on teachers. Nearly 50 percent reported in a 2020 study by MDR they would like counseling and mental health support from their districts. The good news is federal COVID-19 relief funds allocated to schools can be used to support providing these services to teachers.
- Professional development. With the influx of Coronavirus relief money into schools around the country, it is likely that teachers will return to school with new resources and programs to support student learning. While this can be exciting, it can also be intimidating as there is often a learning curve for new classroom programs. Teachers will need professional development support and time to learn how to use any new resources that are being provided. Education companies may need to think in new ways about how to provide that support so it can more easily be worked into teachers’ busy schedules. On-demand training and support may be a better option than traditional professional development sessions.
- Patience and a sense of humor. The transition back to the classroom 100 percent is likely to hit some pitfalls along the way. To successfully face those challenges teachers are going to need to keep the same patience and sense of humor they have demonstrated over the past year and take opportunities to laugh when the situation allows for it.
While there may be some pivots along the way back to brick-and-mortar school in the fall, we are excitedly anticipating seeing those back-to-school photos of happy kids with their backpacks headed off to a bright new year. The team at MDR is here to help you plan for reaching out to educators in the new school to provide them with exactly what they need to have a successful and safe new school year. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.