home home meet the teacher classroom shop freebie library

Returning to Class After COVID-19

Students in British Columbia are starting to head back to school on a part-time, voluntary basis June 1 after nearly 3 months off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  As I prepare to head back into the classroom, I find myself thinking about all of the new procedures and routines I'll need to teach.  Here's my list of initial thoughts, that I'm hoping can help you too, whenever your return to school might be.

Hand Washing

Of course, we always do hand washing lessons and reminders during regular times, but now, even more so this will be extra crucial.  As you read on, you'll see how frequently we'll need to be washing our hands, starting with right at arrival.

I intend to have some conversations around the importance of hand washing, as well as show some visuals.  This video is one that I think is quite powerful.  I'm not 100% sure what they are saying, so probably play it on "mute" to be safe!

To really drive this point home, I'm going to complete the traditional bread experiment with my students.  This is where you take slices of bread and touch them to objects, putting each in it's own Ziploc bag and observing daily.  We'll likely do something like this:
  • control piece of bread
  • bread touched by clean hands
  • bread rubbed on the classroom doorknob
  • bread rubbed on the playground equipment
  • bread rubbed on the toilet seat

Lining Up

The school I work at lets students enter the building freely when the bell rings.  For the most part, students can come in orderly, but boot rooms are definitely hectic, and students definitely touch one another.  So now, we'll line up and be invited in class by class.

As I teach out in the portable with one other class, we'll be designating a spot on either side of the walkway for each class.  We'll invite a small group of students in (likely 3 at a time) to our small boot room to prevent any accidental touching.  This is going to involve having a teacher at the door to invite students in and another one near the classroom entrances to supervise there.

Desk Space

In British Columbia, we've been told that students don't need to physically distance, they just need to avoid physical touch.  I'm still going to do my best to rearrange my room and get rid of any extra furniture to help create space.

Students won't be able to work around the room (which just kills my flexible seating heart!!), so I'll be removing my rug and additional seating. Supplies must be individual, so they'll keep everything they need at their own desks.  If we want to use manipulatives, these items will need to be sorted into individual sets as well.

Using the Washroom

Things will be a bit different out in the portable, but students will need to space out their bathroom times.  In the main building, I believe they are going to try and limit the washroom to only 2 people at a time.  We'll have a day custodian (which is new for us) and they'll be cleaning frequently.


Students will be expected to wash their hands before and after heading out on to the playground.  While I believe they are going to be able to use the play structures, I'm not sure they can use items such as basketballs etc as we've been told those will need to be sanitized after each use.  They will also not be allowed to physically touch, which means no Tag and other traditional playground games.

Eating Snack/Lunch

Again, students will need to wash their hands before and after eating.  We'll need to emphasize the importance of not sharing food.  Students will also not be allowed to take food outside, which has happened previously.  I'm still not sure how this will look time wise, as presumably the first student to wash their hands may be done eating their snack before all of the hand washing is even complete!

In Case of Illness

If a student shows any sign of illness (upset stomach, headache, runny nose) they will be asked to go to the sick room until a parent or guardian can pick them up. They will need to stay home for 10 school days from that point.  I want to discuss this one right away and make students clear on what it means.  I need them to know that this does not necessarily mean that they have COVID-19 (I do NOT want a bunch of scared children) and that it is part of keeping people safe.  I'd hate to create any unnecessary panic, fear, or stigma by sending someone home.

End of Day

This is one I'm really going to need to look at and probably fine tune as we go.  As students are only coming two days (in a row) a week we're asking them to take all of their belongings home each day.  This will limit the number of items the custodian has to clean (and clean around).  For some, I know it's really going to be quite the event ensuring they get all of their belongings!!

Typically, I end my day with a hug, handshake or high five on the way out the door.  Sadly, this won't be able to continue.

I'm sure there is so much more that will come up once June 1 arrives!  Think I missed something? Let me know in the comments!

Pin this post.

Helping to inspire,

post signature


  1. Thanks for this post, I am thinking of asking the students to bring their own water bottles to last them through the day, just to avoid water fountains.

    1. Ours have been taped up with garbage bags.

  2. We have similar guidelines around seating in our division in SK - I was curious to know if you had any tips for storing their individual materials (like math manipulatives, etc.)? I teach grade 2, so I'll be doing something similar with my kiddos in Sept.

    1. Hmm... I haven't ever made individual math toolkits, but I do know some people who have. I've seen Ziploc bags, pencil cases, or small containers from the dollar store used. If you don't have enough materials, I know that some sellers on TpT have created printable versions.

  3. I did the bread expirement and then my husband, the biologist, burst my bubble by telling me that bread mold is not caused by germs and viruses but by mold spores. Most of the mold spores are in the air although a dirty surface likely has more mold spores
    than a clea one. However, it isn't really the proof of their being gersm and could perpetuate myths and misunderstandings. .

    1. Thanks for this clarification! Yes, this is true to bring up for sure. I still find it's a good visual for kids to help them understand the importance of hand hygiene.