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  • Writer's pictureLauren Misquitta

Navigating New Norms

As we try and navigate the new formats of schooling for this year, its hard to try and think of everything. Ideally, we as teachers would love to provide a safe learning environment for our students, ourselves, and our families at home.

Having been asked to do virtual and in person learning this year, doing just that has been a challenge. Along the way, I’ve been picking up some tips and tricks that might help you as well. In this profession I’ve learned that sharing is caring and that we are all in this together, so we have to help each other out!

For those of us that are doing in-person teaching this year, it is of utmost importance that we protect everyone in our classroom, including ourselves. Whether your school system is making masks mandatory for students or not, you as a teacher should be able to feel safe and make sure that you are maintaining a safe environment for yourself. One of the first things to think about is a face covering of some sort. The traditional/generic blue masks are a great choice, but remembering that we will be wearing these masks for upwards of 8 hours at times I quickly realized that I need a better option. Listed below are some of the “better” options I have found on the Internet.

  • Face shields with glasses - These are a great option as they change the pressure point from the forehead to the ears/nose as if you were wearing glasses.

  • You can purchase it here

  • Face masks (neoprene) - These are great alternatives to the generic blue masks. The neoprene design make them more breathable, soft around the ears, and hand washable which make them more cost effective as well. Additionally, the area where the fabric connects on the front makes them not collapse into your mouth area, creating easy breathing room.

  • You can purchase it here

With the basic face covering taken care of, it is important to note that there are other ways to keep yourself and the students safe as well. Just as supermarkets and restaurants have added physical barriers, you as a teacher may also choose to do that and I have found some great products that do just that. At the end of the day, it is important to maintain a safe distance between you and your students, so with that goal in mind, here are some options I found that and I am utilizing in my classroom.

  • Plexiglass desk shield - This is a plexiglass barrier that can be put in on your desk to maintain a safe distance between you and your students. It is temporary and easy to move around as it has legs it stands on and doesn’t have to be screwed into the desk.

  • You can purchase it here

  • PVC pipe stand for clear curtains - Put together PVC pipe and make the structure for a curtain system. This again is for added protection for not only you but for your students as well. Then just buy some clear shower curtains and some generic steel hooks.

  • You can purchase the shower curtain here

  • You can purchase the hooks here

Now that takes care of things you can do for yourself in the classroom. Here are some tips and tricks for yourself in order to protect yourself outside of school and to make sure your loved ones at home are safe and not exposed to COVID too.

  • Dollar Store Bins - Use these bins to separate used/dirty items such as masks from unused/clean ones.

  • Comfy yet professional clothing- Don’t ruin your nice teacher clothes that you’ve spent quite a bit of money on over the years. Instead, buy more comfy looking clothes that hold up better in the wash. If you’re like me, you’d still like to look put together, so I suggest joggers as a great way to be comfy, yet stylish. They come in many colors and look great with tennis shoes (see the next bullet point). You are going to be washing your clothes a lot more this year, so it would be better to not have to replace expensive clothing.

  • You can purchase joggers here

  • Closed-toed shoes - to decrease contamination while in the classroom is extra important. Having your feet covered with socks and shoes is a great way to ensure that when you get home you can slip those items off and have clean feet when entering your home interior.

These ideas seem simple and small, but I believe they will make a big impact in my life (and hopefully yours) when it comes to feeling protected.

If you’re a hybrid or solely virtual teacher, I have been compiling some helpful hints and tips that I’ll be sharing on my next blog post! Thanks so much for reading and have a flairtastic day!

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