Dr. Mike Robinson: How can schools’ practice social distancing when kids return to school?
Dr. Katrina Sparks: When students return to school after months of learning from home, there will be drastic but necessary changes to ensure the safety of everyone and that learning will continue. The practice and guidelines necessary entail feedback and input from the CDC- The Center for Disease and Control, the school districts, school administration, teachers, and the Parents’ Association (PTA). To maintain safety and social distance the following should be implemented:
Dr. Mike Robinson: Is Schooling with social distancing even possible?
Dr. Katrina Sparks: Schooling with social distancing is possible when a plan has been created and guidelines have been set. This entails a support team comprised of medical professionals, the school board, school administration, teachers, and the parents. Most importantly the students. I believe the students need to be involved and have some input because this affects their academic, social, and emotional well-being.
Dr. Mike Robinson: What are your thoughts on staggered start times; alternate weeks of attendance; remote learning until further notice.
Dr. Katrina Sparks: The start should remain the same. However, drop off and pickup procedures need to be put in place. For example, curbside drop off and pick with 6 feet vehicle distance. For the students that require the school bus, the school buses should be spaced apart. Another recommendation would be hybrid learning. Hybrid learning is the students attend school 2-3 times a week face to face and the remainder of the school week the students receive instruction online (virtual classroom).
Dr. Mike Robinson: What are thoughts about teachers wearing masks and other PPE?
Dr. Katrina Sparks: I believe as a safety precaution school administration, teachers, students, and staff should wear masks until the pandemic has decreased and until we have received notification from the medical officials (i.e. CDC)
Dr. Mike Robinson: This question comes from a parent. "When schools are open, what signs would be visible that would suggest social distancing is working?
Dr. Katrina Sparks: When schools are open the signs are the feedback from the students. The students are greatly being affected by this ordeal. I believe it is imperative during this time parents and adults to listen and talk to their children. Ask them, ‘how are they doing”? “Is everything ok”? “What can I do to help you”? I believe it is also necessary to also have mental health support available to the school staff and students who may be having difficulty adjusting to the “new norm”.
Dr. Katrina R. Sparks - Mother, daughter, author and educator. The foundation of who she is grounded in a determination to defy the odds, and an unyielding willingness to fight through life challenges. These traits have resulted in Dr. Sparks being the epitome of today’s immensely complex and powerfully spirited woman. Dr. Sparks completed her undergraduate work at Herbert Lehman College where she majored in African-American Studies with a concentration in Early Childhood Education and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1993. Dr. Sparks went on to further her education by earning her first Masters in Special Education from Long Island University/Brooklyn Campus in 1998. She earned a second Master's degree in School Administration and Supervision from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts at North Adams, MA in 2002 and a third Masters from Argosy University in Educational Specialist/Educational Leadership in 2003. Dr. Katrina R. Sparks in 2007 earned a Doctorate of Philosophy in Professional Studies in Education from Capella University.