Back to School at the Hospital during COVID
Our schools continue to provide healing through education.
Back-to-school season has looked a lot different for everyone this fall. That’s no exception at the hospital.
Our on-site school rooms, staffed by teams of certified teachers, are typically a place where hospitalized kids come to learn, play, and find community. In an environment full of unfamiliar faces and noises, this program provides a sense of normalcy to thousands of school-aged patients each year.
During the pandemic, teaching staff have had to think creatively to meet patients’ needs.
“We have pivoted in so many ways, but what hasn’t changed is our focus on serving students and their families,” says Julie Pollman, head teacher at the Marie Wattis School on our San Francisco campus.
“We’re trying to foster engagement, success, and normalcy in a time where nothing is normal.”
Through closed circuit Child Life channels broadcast in patient rooms, teachers facilitate group interactions to help kids continue to connect since they can’t meet in person. Activities include story time, music sessions, game shows, art classes, and a sibling support group.
Some students are visited at bedside by teachers wearing masks for individual lessons, which can range from learning to read to preparing for an AP history exam. On our San Francisco campus, students have been able to return to the classroom one at a time.
We’re trying to foster engagement, success, and normalcy in a time where nothing is normal.
“The sound of a child’s voice in our programming space is music,” Pollman says.
Pollman has been impressed by the resiliency of both the children and the teaching staff.
“Teachers have had to relearn how to do their jobs,” she says. “They have done this with grace, creativity, and caring that has been nothing short of inspirational.”
Some teachers see a silver lining for hospitalized children in the current situation.
“I think a positive psychological outcome of all kids being in class virtually is that it normalizes part of our patients’ lives, since their peers are also unable to be in school and socialize as freely as they normally do,” says one teacher.
The school programs at our hospitals are made possible with generous support from our community donors.