Whether your school is closing or you're increasing your focus on health and safety, the coronavirus pandemic has likely affected the way you do business in the library. We wanted to take a moment and outline some procedures and resources that school librarians can adopt or use during this uncertain time.
If your school is still in session, you should take precautions to reduce the spread of germs in your library. Just like you do during cold and flu season, encourage students to wash their hands before coming to the library and handling books. Have a supply of hand sanitizer on hand for use after students cough, blow their noses, or touch their faces. Wipe down books with a microfiber cloth or a safe book cleaning solution.
If you know a student has been sick, maybe encourage him or her to keep an overdue book just a little while longer and if you do the shelving of books on your own, wear gloves so you're not exposing yourself to anything icky.
Overdue Books and Checkout Limits
Trying to return a library book on time should be the last thing a student worries about at this time. If you restrict students from checking out new books if they have overdue titles, consider suspending the rule for now. If you have checkout limits, increase them so students have books to read at home if school closes unexpectedly. And when school is finally back in session, give students and parents a little extra grace and time to get back into the swing of things before gently reminding them to return their books.
Engaging Students Online
As the school librarian, there are things you can to ensure students still have the ability to access books online. Items that you post and ideas you share may also help make parents' and teachers' lives a little bit easier.
Some ideas include:
- Send out weekly reading challenges
- Create a digital reading log and offer prizes
- Record yourself reading stories (but be mindful of copyright issues)
- Highlight a different book from the library every day
- Point students to free read-alouds or digital books online
- Create escape room style research challenges
- Post your favorite facts from informational texts
- Encourage students to write their own stories using Google Docs or Slides and share them in a library-wide Google Drive
- Look for fun and educational days to celebrate and share books, resoruces, or online reading passages about them
Need some resources to share with students to help them learn online while school is closed?
HelpTeaching.com has made all of its online lessons free. These include many read-alouds of public domain and original texts.
Epic! is offering free remote access for students if they have a code from their teacher.
Newsela is offering temporary free access to many of its articles.
Loving2Read always offers a free selection of children's books for PreK - Grade 3.
You should also check out the websites and Facebook pages of popular children's authors. Many of them already share free resources and have ramped up what they're offering to help get teachers and students through this uncertain time. For example, Mo Willems is offering a free drawing lesson for kids every day.
We hope that you and your students stay healthy and happy during this unique time in our educational world.