Community is the key for a successful re-opening

by John Yiannoudis*

Traditionally, one of our preschool’s strong points has been the unconditional families’ trust built on a number of reasons but big time on school open door policy.

In Dorothy Snot, parents were always welcomed to come in at anytime without prior notice and were offered numbers of options to get involved in school life. Quite often this proved to be disruptive for daily operation, but it has been our strong belief that parents’ active involvement in school bears more good than bad; builds mutual confidence, enhances children’ development and increases the interaction & learning within the community.

However, the covid-19 lockdown and the reluctant reopening took us into another planet with new rules; and a core one is keeping adults outside. This is hard for all to accept and in our minds could be a crucial factor to keep children further in home.

Well, forty five days after the most successful reopening we could imagine is clear that a big chunk of this success comes straight from parents’ trust and love towards the school. No happiness around if despite our strict covid-19 hygiene policy, parents would chose to keep children at home; instead though, 85% of school families returned within the first three weeks.

Living now in the age of the virus, is our core duty to keep finding new innovative ways to maintain and further build this trust. We have to be communicative and smart, make good use of technology and come up with new covid-19 compatible ideas to bring school life out in the open and keep interacting with families. In a future article I will write more.

In any case, all we educators must bear in mind that strong community bonds are key for a successful covid-19 school operation. It’s absolutely normal for families to be afraid, reluctant and precautious; and it’s our task to beat their fear and make them feel safe and included through open communication, honesty and empathy.

Building a strong school community is an absolute must for a successful reopening. Now more than ever, we have to work together with families to re-invent the play-based school of the post covid-19 era.

* John is Dorothy Snot preschool & kindergarten co-founder & Director