UI launches a K-12 Shield guiding schools on reopening schools


Ryan Ash

A SHIELD worker helps to test college students for COVID-19 on Sept. 30. SHIELD recently released guidance to schools to try and help them reopen for the fall semester.

By Royal Shrestha, Staff Writer

The SHIELD team, in partnership with the college of education and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, has recently released a K-12 playbook offering guidance for schools considering to reopen for the next semester.
With the rollout of vaccines across campus and to students, more and more colleges will soon be transitioning back to classroom learning.
The same can not be said for elementary, middle and high schools, as there is currently no vaccine available for kids under 16 years old. Many school districts are trying to find the best way to ensure student safety while transitioning back to in-person learning.
“Once I started researching what was out there, I saw that the information was scattered all throughout the web. We decided to create a playbook with decision trees, knowing that our playbook would be meant for schools across the nation and not one school in particular,” said Rebecca Smith, associate professor Veterinary Medicine and Medicine said. The actual playbook is centered around SHIELD’s program that was used to maintain safety and keeping the pandemic in control at the University. Smith described the playbook as having all the necessary information in one place with modules including cleaning, distancing, information technology, masks, testing and ventilation. Each module gives different scenarios the school may face and depending on whether they answer yes or no to that scenario, it will give them a list of procedures to follow.
“Not everything will be applicable to a certain school which is why we have set up decision trees allowing for the best course of action for each school depending on what they answer ” Smith said.
The six modules guide users through questions that are specific to their needs and will offer a course of action that is applicable to their current situation.
Creating such an interactive experience was done with the help of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, which worked to make the playbook be available online, and the College of Education, which provided valuable information about how K-12 schools operated on a normal school day to the SHIELD team.
Smith described the challenges of in-person transition, how the SHIELD team created this free online playbook as a way of sharing everything they have learned and how other people can learn from them as well.

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