As COVID cases continue to rise amid a rush to get all eligible over-18s booster jabs before the end of the year and with Plan B in full swing, it is no wonder schools are eyeing the spring term with trepidation.
The Government is committed to keeping schools open, but with so many children off school with COVID-related reasons – 236,000 on Thursday, 9 December, according to latest figures – then holes will start appearing in their learning.
Staff sickness is a growing issue too with there simply not being enough teachers and teaching assistants to safely keep classes open.
To combat this, some schools are sending students home with laptops in case they cannot come back to school in the New Year. Some schools have already switched to online learning for all or some of their classes.
Schools know what online learning looks like; they have done it all before and hopefully, they will have all the tools in place to smoothly switch from the classroom to the laptop and to remain in contact with students.
Many schools used Microsoft Teams or Google Classrooms to facilitate online learning before seeking out complementary phone systems that meant they could hold regular conversations with students without revealing their personal mobile numbers or running up mobile bills, as well as benefiting from call recording to meet duty of care regulations.
Our phone systems enable teachers to use the school solution via their mobile devices, PCs or laptops from wherever they are working, so suit the fluid teaching environment COVID has imposed. In the case of the Microsoft Teams Phone System app, schools already benefit from having access to free basic Microsoft 365 licences and favourable pricing for additional licensing.
If schools adopt a hybrid teaching method with some students in the classroom and others tuning in from their homes while isolating, the internet connectivity and Wi-Fi will need to be up to scratch in all classrooms for live video lessons. It would be the same if teachers were teaching online to whole classes from school; they will need decent connectivity.
We have been helping schools make use of Connect the Classroom funding from the Department of Education to replace ageing Wi-Fi solutions, allowing them to bring their wireless connectivity up to scratch.
Meanwhile, as if they have not had enough to deal with, schools have been battling with increased cyber-attacks and ransomware demands in the last few years. The need for security, web filtering and data backup is greater than ever.
We have worked with schools for almost 40 years and have always strived to design solutions to meet their needs. In these changing times, schools need an agile supplier to support them. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need further support in these coming months.