Remote Learning

Practical Suggestions

Understanding the American Academy of Pediatrics COVID-19 Guidelines

No one alive in the United States today has experienced anything like the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, people are understandably confused. At the beginning of the pandemic, we knew little to nothing about this specific virus. This caused confusion, indecision, and policy slip ups and blunders at every level. We have all seen this.

Nonetheless, it has now come time for educators to take charge – at the schoolhouse door – and make the policy and accommodations for the students in their charge. What should we do? What’s going to happen when school opens and during the 2020/21 schoolyear?

As all of our schools know, LabLearner is deeply committed to the highest quality science and math instruction anywhere. However, we are even more concerned about the health and safety of our students. This should come as no surprise since LabLearner was born and spent its first few years in the Pediatrics Department of The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently provided guidelines for schools across the United States to consider as they plan for the upcoming 2020/21 school year (click on the button below). LabLearner has carefully studied the AAP guidelines in detail. We fully endorse these guidelines and have relied heavily upon them for the recommendations specific to the LabLearner program outlined on this page. In particular, the specific AAP Guidelines below were used in our recommendations: 

  • “…the AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with the goal of having students physically present in school.”
  • “School policies must be flexible and nimble in responding to new information, and administrators must be willing to refine approaches when specific policies are not working.”
  • “It is critically important to develop strategies that can be revised and adapted depending on the level of viral transmission in the school and throughout the community…”
  • Policies should be practical, feasible, and appropriate for child and adolescent’s developmental stage.

 

Keep Calm and Carry On

Unlike many previous viral outbreaks, COVID-19 has one key and clearly-documented characteristic – mercifully, it has had little or no direct health impact on children. In fact, AAP suggests that most negative health impacts of COVID-19 on children is much more likely the result of not going to school and being in locked-down for months. Such negative effects include child and adolescent physical and sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation. They point to social and developmental concerns as well.

While many questions remain and we continue to learn more about COVID-19 every day, the AAP suggests that “the preponderance of evidence indicates that children and adolescents are less likely to be symptomatic and less likely to have severe disease resulting from SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection. In addition, children may be less likely to become infected and to spread infection.”

We strongly suggest that educators read the full AAP guidelines (click on the button below). However, educators may be inspired to know that there likely has never been a more important “back-to-school day” as the one coming this fall. The restoration of normality and the routine of regularly attending school will likely be very beneficial to our students’ (and their parents) health. While we can’t be certain, we can at least be optimistic that by Halloween, the only masks that will be worn will be for Trick-or-Treat. And careful optimism might be just what the doctor orderd for all of us.

LabLearner Stringency Levels

There is simply nothing better for student science learning, skill development, group cooperative behavior, and critical thinking skills than hands-on lab experiences. Period. Therefore, as soon as public health warrants removal of COVID-19 restrictions, normal LabLearner techniques and procedures should be re-established.

In the short term, however, consistant with AAP guidelines, we recommend a graded approach for LabLearner implementation that is flexible enough to accommodate specific geographic locations and evolving infection data.  To assist educators, we have broken our suggestions into stringency levels commensurate with the magnitude of the perceived COVID-19 hazard. Switching from one stringentcy level to another, in either direction, can easily be accomplished.

We have designed stringency levels on a spectrum that ranges from normal 100% hands-on LabLearner implementation, to stringency Level 4, a 100% remote solution. Stringency levels 1 through 3 all involve students physically attending the LabLearner lab with modifications of lab procedures. These levels of stringency are described further in the sections below.

  • Students attend all lab sessions in person
  • Only one lab session per class required
  • Students work in collaborative groups of 4 to 6 per lab bench
  • Gloves, lab coats, and/or safety glasses are only worn as required by specific experiments
  • Content Days, Prelabs, and Postlabs are held as usual in classrooms without masks

  • Students attend labs in person
  • Only one lab session per class required
  • Students work in collaborative groups of 4 to 6 per lab bench
  • No lab coats are worn
  • Gloves, masks, and safety glasses are worn at all times in the lab
  • Teacher uses 70% alcohol solution to wipe benches before and after lab
  • Content Days, Prelabs, and Postlabs in classrooms +/- masks as in other classrooms

  • Students attend labs in person
  • One or two lab sessions/class will be required
  • Student work in groups of only 4 per lab bench
  • No lab coats are worn
  • Gloves, masks, and safety glasses are worn at all times in the lab
  • Teacher uses 70% alcohol solution to wipe benches before and after use
  • Content Days, Prelabs, and Postlabs in classrooms +/- masks as per other classrooms

  • Students attend labs in person
  • Two or three lab sessions/class required
  • Only two students at far ends of benches
  • No lab coats are worn
  • Gloves, masks, and safety glasses worn at all times in the lab
  • Teacher uses 70% alcohol solution to wipe benches before and after use
  • Content Days, Prelabs, and Postlabs in classrooms +/- masks as per other classrooms

  • Students observe lab remotely (Zoom, etc.)
  • Teacher performs experiments in the lab
  • Gloves, lab coats, and/or safety glasses are worn as required by experiments
  • Teacher uses 70% alcohol solution to wipe bench before and after use
  • Content Days, Prelabs, and Postlabs conducted remotely
  • Teacher may supplement student involvement remotely with Student Videos, Student Lab Methods and MetricsLabLearner Cognitive Workouts, LabLearner Discussions, and LabLearner Links (SEE BELOW)

Additional Resources for Remote Learning

New LabLearner online resources for the 2020/21 school year significantly enhance the LabLearner experience. They also are particularly useful in a remote learning environment.

These new curricular enhancements include Student Videos, Student Lab Methods and Metrics Review, Math Lessons and Homework, Lablearner Discussions, LabLearner Cognitive Workouts, and LabLearner Links.