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Welcome to the end of August. Front-of-mind for most educators is the uncertain future of students’ in-person attendance this fall. Seasoned teachers reflecting on a previous year full of uncertainty and constant adaptation may find themselves facing what feels like a foreign classroom while those new to the profession may not even know where to begin in preparing their classroom for a new year. Whichever camp you find yourself in as a science teacher, this post will help ease your worries as we guide you through the basic steps for preparing your lab for the upcoming year.
With the pandemic having profoundly affected how teachers instruct their students on a day-to-day basis, it is even more important that you refamiliarize yourself with your lab and its equipment in anticipation of the arrival of students. To help you out, we’ve compiled a back-to-school checklist to complete as you prepare your lab for the new year. As you check off each item on the list, note what you need to replace to ensure a safe environment.
If done properly, cleaning and disinfecting are important defenses against the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. When the coronavirus comes into contact with a surface, it can survive from a few hours to a few days unless properly cleaned and/or disinfected. As the coronavirus can easily transfer to students’ hands, establishing and following protocols as well as frequently washing hands with soap and water becomes paramount to preventing the spread of the disease. When setting up your surface cleaning and disinfecting protocols, make sure to follow the following guidelines:
When washing hands, soap and water are preferred over hand sanitizers.
Clean frequently touched surfaces (e.g., lab tables, doorknobs, countertops, light switches, etc.) between uses.
If applicable, do not forget to continually clean your bathrooms.
If possible, discourage sharing of common materials, including lab equipment, touch screens, erasers, and writing utensils.
Clean all shared areas at the beginning and at the end of each period when students change rooms.
When cleaning surfaces, you and/or students should wear gloves to protect your hands, making sure to wash your hands after you have finished cleaning and disinfecting. Also, make sure the room is well ventilated while it is being cleaned and disinfected.
If you have run out of EPA-approved disinfectants, it is easy to make substitutes; for example, one such substitute is made by mixing 1 gallon of water with ⅓ cup of bleach. This solution will effectively disinfect for about 24 hours.
Conducting lab experiments, or any group project in which multiple students will be interacting with materials and equipment, is made much more difficult with the addition of COVID-19. New obstacles must be overcome for lab activities to be safe for students, such as social distancing and maintaining proper levels of cleanliness.
Group lab experiments may be difficult to perform given the need for social distancing. Smaller individual lab activities can be done as a substitute during which students work in rotation, with one half of the class doing the hands-on activity while the other half works at their desks. Teacher-led demonstrations provide an alternative to group hands-on laboratory work. Students can watch the teacher do the experiment, make observations, draw conclusions, and complete reports. Additionally, a student could be substituted for the teacher and perform the experiment for the class.
Regardless of what workarounds need to be applied, your lab’s preparedness for incoming students cannot be ignored. Check out our checklist, note your lab’s needs, and head over to our home page to get what you need to start your new year confidently.
At hBARSCI, our goal is to get you the science products you need easily, including many items mentioned in the Back to School Checklist such as:
Looking for something specific? Just reach out to us at email@example.com or using our live chat feature during business hours—just head to the bottom, left-hand corner of our web pages!