You might think that the title of this blog post is trying to be link-grabbing, but it's simply a manifestation of the latest incarnation of many phenomena which might close schools or a school for a length of time.
Now, that opening sentence was originally written last Autumn in relation to H1N1, but in the intervening months it's had an increased relevance for all sorts of reasons. Anyway, back to the original post - I'll cut in soon and try & put it in a more recent context...I'll do my best to explain.
One of the only things it was difficult to get a clear picture of is what would happen to schools - sometimes the virus appeared to be spreading too fast for school closures to have any effect, other times it was thought some schools would need to stay closed at the start of this term in September. Actually, bear that last article in mind, we'll come back to it.
There is some guidance from Teachernet on Support Learning During Extended School Closures (PDF) and a Model Flu Pandemic Plan (a checklist in Word .doc format). The relevant sections in there are probably:
- 1.7 Develop communication and dissemination plans for staff, students, and families, including information about possible closures, any timetable changes...
- 2.2 ...Consider also compiling home email addresses for students and parents/carers who have access to the internet at home.
- 2.9 Consider developing and testing communications mechanisms in the possible event of school closure e.g. Telephone trees and text messaging services.
- 2.11 Investigate options with your LA about how students might work from home during a pandemic.
What stands out in this document are:
- It is useful for schools to review the proportion of students with IT facilities at home, and the extent to which students with such facilities could access school IT systems from home;
- It is useful for LAs, or any schools that work outside pan-LA plans, to consider possible (non-IT) systems for getting work to and from students in the event of lengthy school closures;
- Schools should recognise that staff – teachers and support staff – have a role to play in emergency planning and, together with their trade unions or professional associations, should be consulted on the school’s emergency plans (for pandemic flu or other emergencies);
Well, that's how the post started. Then it snowed.
The Snow Days of January 2010 - an extended period of school closures due to wintry weather - highlighted the fact to many schools here in Buckinghamshire that they needed the ability to provide for supporting learning online when physical access to the schools was limited. This ran into a snag. What happened here was that a lot (if not all schools) saw a screen similar to this, only with their school's Moodle address at the top:
However, those questions above regarding preparations for H1N1 were still relevant.
|The Shot Everyone's Taking by Mike Knell. Used under Creative Commons.|
|Image by Biology Big Brother. Used under Creative Commons.|