Back on July 14, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina elementary schools would reopen with mixed remote-and-in-person classes for Fall 2020. His announcement came after long deliberation, but it introduces new questions for parents and employers. Why does the new blended reopening matter to you?
Elementary Schools Reopening: Completely New for North Carolina
We’ve covered the schools’ Fall 2020 saga as it unfolded, including an overview, a Wake County case study or a parents’ how-to guide. But the governor’s July 14 announcement introduces an overall education plan which North Carolina hasn’t seen yet.
The reopening plan centers the state’s “Plan B” style.
The term Plan B draws from the guidebook released by the Public Schools of North Carolina in June. “Reopening Plan B: Moderate Social Distancing” balances remote instruction and in-person classes for elementary students. The guidebook has called this balance blended learning.
Practically, the Plan B reopening plan will unfold in “shifts” of in-person instruction. For instance, elementary schools could split their students into two cohorts. Only the first cohort might attend school physically Monday and Wednesday. The other cohort would attend physically on Tuesday and Thursday. When not in physical classes (and on Fridays), both cohorts would receive remote instruction.
Or, instead of alternating by day, elementary schools in North Carolina could alternate by week. Rather than trading in-person and remote schooling from one day to the next, different student cohorts would trade those options on a weekly basis.
What the specific plans look like will depend on the individual schools. So too will the amount of remote instruction; North Carolina’s plans allows schools to choose remote-only schooling.
Elementary Plans Impact Parents and Employers
Their effects on parents are obvious: if your children remain around the house two to five days per week, your at-home duties (likely added to your own remote work) become that much harder. Your adaptation to digital tools must now include your child’s adaptation to the same tools. (These obstacles assume COVID-19 hasn’t cost you your job, which many can’t say).
How you respond as a parent will depend on your responsibilities and your children. Similarly, how you respond as an employer will depend on your employees’ responsibilities and your expectations for them.
One tip from MIT Sloan names an umbrella problem you might overlook: professional and personal boundaries. Your employees’ work-life and home-life have never been so muddled. Have you gotten their’ feedback yet? Encouraging their side of work-from-home can become the first step in optimizing their work schedules.
Working all the way through the expected 9-5? Maybe not, if they monitor their children for remote schooling. Consider relying blocks of work-time scattered throughout a day instead. Help your employees concentrate on parenting and work in more concentrated sections. Maybe don’t don’t dilute both roles by needlessly combining them. Their productivity and satisfaction (not to mention yours) will likely suffer for it.
Workplaces don’t happen in a vacuum. Now that elementary schools in North Carolina will reopen but use remote options, track how their plans will impact your employees’ home offices.