Our team has been working hard to put together some crucial safety tips for the upcoming school year. One major way you can maximize the safety in your classroom is by using desk dividers. All this means is creating a physical barrier between students’ desks in order to avoid and spit or sneeze particles jumping from one desk to another (yuck). There are many different models that you could work with so it all depends on how you set up your classroom.
For example, if your classroom has four desks set up so that each desktop is touching one another, you can use a 2×2 divider which is one divider that will act as a barrier for all four desks. Another example would be a Floor Standing Divider, if you’re planning on separating the desks further you can use one of these which will be a stand holding up a piece of cardboard or polypropylene which will block the students from one another. In addition, if you still want students to be able to interact with either their fellow classmates or if you want a front divider where they’d still be able to see you, you can install desk dividers with window slots and polypropylene in these slots so that students can safely interact in the classroom.
Given the state of the world right now, it may seem beyond your means or budget to purchase dividers for your entire classroom (and sometimes multiple classrooms). Luckily, our incredible ILI team have created step-by-step instructions on how to build a divider that would best fit your classroom. Using these directions, you can build your own desk dividers using cardboard that you can either laser cut or cut yourself. And, if you’re into recycling, you could use discarded packages or cereal boxes for the divider materials depending on the width of the cardboard and the rigidity of the piece you’re attempting to construct. These guides specifically use low-cost materials in order to make it both affordable and possible for you to create a safer environment for your students.
Even with our building instructions, however, you may wonder whether a project like this is really within your means, budget, and time constraints. Luckily, we’ve taken the research element completely out of your hands because our team has created guides breaking down the cost based on the materials and distributors you could use. So say you wanted to use Corrugated Plastic from United States Plastic Corp (1/8″-3/16’) – that should cost you roughly $21.63.
Our team has also provided teachers with direct links on where to buy each of the materials as well as the direct contact information for the companies listed. This is because, in addition to many educational resources making their products available for a free or reduced cost due to COVID-19, many companies are stepping up to help educators during these trying times. If you’re having trouble finding the budget or supplies needed to create these classroom materials, it is well worth your time to reach out to one of the companies listed or even a local hardware store. There may be a local Makerspace that would allow you access to their laser cutter or CNC machine. There may even be parents or volunteers in the community who would be willing to help make these supplies with you. People care about the wellbeing and health of students, it’s not all on you!
In addition to desk dividers, another way to add additional safety precautions to your classroom is to add covers for phones, desks, computers, etc. During this strange time we’re living through, we’ve all become experts at tracing the spread of germs (whether practically or simply due to sheer paranoia). Someone sneezes on their phone, they hand their friend their phone, their friend uses that same hand to touch their nose or mouth, and suddenly that student is now at risk. It’s hard for kids to both have that foresight and have an enjoyable educational experience, so it’s up to us as educators to create as many precautions and barriers as possible.
In one of our July Hour of Innovation seminars, we highlighted one company in particular, Jokari, who is developing a line of protectant covers using a material called Nano Silver. The material is specifically designed to attach to bacteria walls and suffocate the bacteria cells, making them consistently 99% bacteria-free. The material holds its potency for several weeks and has passed several ‘bacteria tests’ including Streptococcus pneumoniae, Escherichia Coli, and Staphylococcus aureus. Thus far, the line has announced plans to release a phone pouch, mask pouch, surface protector, office partition, car window shade, screen protector, and mask. Products like these or comparable models would go a long way to reduce the spread of germs within your classroom.