Play in the Time of COVID

Watch the video, below. Happy kids, free play and clean COVID score-card.

It’s all happening in South Carolina, thanks to 4th grade teacher Kevin Stinehart. Kevin had started a Let Grow Play Club before the pandemic and noticed happier kids — and fewer discipline problems. When COVID hit, he didn’t want that to end.

But he’s no daredevil when it comes to safety. He won Teacher of the Year in his county — Pickens — in 2020. Now he’s a candidate for State Teacher of the Year. He’s also husband to a school counselor, and father to two adventurous young girls. Central Academy of the Arts, his school, has a Title 1 designation, indicating a high rate of poverty.

This school year he got a Play Club going as soon as it was feasible, safety-wise. It has been a huge hit. We asked him for advice for other schools this coming fall. Here’s what worked for him:

Play Club Tips During Before, During and After COVID, from Kevin Stinehart

My advice for other schools would be to start small and just try it for a few weeks. When you start with even one hour a week of free play in Play Club, the proof is in the pudding. You will want to expand it to all of your students as you see the myriad of benefits socially, emotionally, and even academically.

Our COVID protocols are strict, but they have worked. Our students are at least six feet apart all day in class. They stay in their desks six feet apart all day long (breakfast, class time, lunch, etc.). When they’re not six feet apart (in the hallways, on the school bus, in the bathrooms, etc.) they are 100% masked. The only time they’re allowed to be less than six feet and take their masks down is when they’re outside.

It has been an enormous success. We actually haven’t had a single student or staff member catch COVID at school all year. All of the COVID cases we’ve had were acquired outside of school events and school property. The science seems to show that open air play outside is generally safe. We have definitely found that anecdotally ourselves. After a full school year and not a single case caught at school, we’re feeling more and more confident that the DHEC and CDC guidelines work. 

Ready to try your own Play Club now or as a fun summer program? We make it easy with our free Guide!

Play Club Implementation Guide for Educators

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