Top 10 Virtual 'Learning Pod' Safety TipsPosted: October 23, 2020
Children are learning in a variety of ways this year. As parents consider options that suit their children and families best, one new option for virtual learning includes “learning pods.” Learning pods are small groups of children who learn in one environment together. Parents typically work together with other families to informally arrange these groups.
A variation of such an arrangement is an employer-based space where children can learn virtually while the parent is at work. These learning environments may be highly structured or less formal. Some employers provide assistants to monitor or even help children with lessons.
Some learning pods are created to provide internet hubs for children and families that need a location with adequate internet access availability.
Dr. Toni Whitaker, a developmental pediatric expert at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, shares tips for safe pod-style learning.
1. It’s important that children, teachers, assistants and parents all follow public health guidelines to prevent COVID-19 spread whether attending school in person or participating in virtual learning in a “learning pod” or in a workplace. Parents are encouraged to review the details of how everyone will work together to prevent spread of viruses.
2. Safest practices to prevent spread of viruses include:
- Wearing a mask or face covering that fits well over the mouth and nose. Also, clean your hands if you touch or adjust the mask.
- Maintaining social distance of at least 6-feet from others
- Practicing frequent and correct hand washing (aim for 20 seconds and be sure to get all of the parts of your hands or sanitizing with an alcohol based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content)
Be sure to do both - wear a mask AND keep a distance of 6-feet apart!
3. All students should have their own materials. Avoid sharing books, crayons, pencils, etc.
4. Keep at least 6 feet apart when eating and drinking. The group should return to wearing masks immediately after meals. Everyone should clean their hands before and after eating.
5. When possible, meet outside where spread of viruses is less likely. Continue to use masks and social distancing outside as well.
6. Keep the spaces clean and disinfected, but be careful about use of chemicals around children.
7. Anyone who is sick should stay at home at least until symptoms have resolved. If you have a new cough, fever, or loss of taste/smell, you should be tested for COVID-19. If you have two or more symptoms of runny nose, sore throat, abdominal pain/vomiting/diarrhea, muscle aches or headache, then you should be tested. If someone in your house has these symptoms, you should stay home until that person is tested and their results are available.
8. The success of learning pods rely on the participating families’ members staying well so that COVID-19 is not introduced. Rules for interaction within the learning pod are important but everyone needs to practice physical distancing and wear masks to keep children in the pod healthy.
9. Keep in contact with teacher(s) to see if things are going well with your child. Ask your student about what ways she or he is learning best or where you or the teacher(s) can help.
10. If your child has special learning needs, it is especially important to continue to be in close contact with your child’s teacher(s), therapist(s), and/or guidance counselor to be sure any challenges are addressed.
No matter where a child is learning, emphasize healthy practices overall. Eat right, exercise and get the right amount of rest. It is also very important to find enjoyment every day and support each other.