Fullstack Academy’s Plan to Return to a New Normal
By Mogan Subramaniam
A note from Fullstack Academy COO Mogan Subramaniam
So much has been written about how the pandemic has taken the sense of normalcy away from our existence. Yet there isn’t enough said about how we will return to the way of being that we miss so much because it confounds us.
We can’t wait to be told when it will be safe for us to step outside. To see family and friends. To hug and shake hands. To return to school and work. But what about how it will be safe to do all of those things?
There has been little in the way of understanding what a return plan will look like.
In the last few days, we’ve seen a six-point framework from the West Coast states, and a three-phase approach from the federal government.
These are moves in the right direction, but there are many unknowns that still need to be filled in. We are all figuring this out as we go.
The return to normal will be anything but normal. It will be the opposite of how we snapped into action six weeks ago. To be safe and effective, the return to normal will have to be thoughtful and meticulous. It will require playing through scenarios, research, investment, and heart.
That is what we are realizing at Fullstack. We have been pondering over questions such as, “What will the new normal look like?” and “How can we return to it safely?”.
How We’re Taking Action
We have set up a task force that is focused entirely on designing a safe return to campus. This team is going through the anticipated journey of staff and students, asking tough questions, and devising solutions to those questions.
It is already investing in measures to make our campus safer for in-person programs when that day comes. We are looking at a wide range of options, including but not limited to:
- Increased sanitization efforts, including masks, sanitizers, wipes, and (more) soap
- Thermal scanners
- Rapid testing
- No-touch receptacles
- New classroom and office layouts to allow for necessary social distancing measures
- New social distancing guidelines and norms for staff and students
- Increased ventilation
- More deep cleaning
- Systemic education and reminders of hygiene and sanitation best practices (email, Slack alerts, posters, Zoom training, etc.)
Developing a New Program Format
While the plan above addresses safety levels in the classroom, there may be students who are unable to commute for a variety of reasons (quarantine, anxious about crowded commutes, etc).
For this reason, we have set up another task force to exclusively look at the development of a program that enables students to continue attending our programs remotely, even when it is deemed safe to return to campus.
We’ve chosen to invest in broadcasting equipment and redesigning our space because we believe this is a necessary step to take to support our students and make sure they have a great student experience.
Every day, I am asked for the date we will return to campus. I wish it were that simple, but here is the framework we use:
- Stay compliant with the authorities: Though we were one of the first educational institutions to embrace a virtual learning model, we will not be ahead in rushing back to campus. Our current plan is to return to campus June 15, but we know that date might change. (See our most recent update on returning to campus here.)
- Consider physical and mental safety: Just because we are told a date is safe to return to work doesn’t mean that we will be mentally ready.
- Account for the set up of a safe environment: If we determine that we need additional time to redesign our campus and offices, set up cameras for remote learning, or install diagnostic equipment, then classes can only be in person after we deem it safe to return and any necessary adaptations/modifications are completed.
- A multiphase approach: The set-up described above is only the first stage of returning to normal. We believe that classrooms will have students near each other without masks one day, but it won’t be immediate.
We’re not going about this in a vacuum. We’re talking to our students, prospective students, and staff, every day. We have programs all over the country, in collaboration with leading universities and governments, and we’re in touch with these partners. We’re following guidelines from the CDC, states, and cities, that we operate in. We’re even looking at best practices in countries like South Korea, Germany, and Singapore.
Two things are clear: We will be returning to a new normal, and that return will take time. The more we prepare, the safer (and faster) that return will be.