Ending the School Year During a Pandemic

ending the school year during a pandemic

During a normal year, packing up and getting the library ready for summer can be stressful and chaotic. And we all know, this 2020 is not a normal year. Instead of having a couple weeks to clean, round up overdue books, pack away materials and makerspace items and complete the thousands of other items on my checklist, I am limited to less than a day. I am not allowed to have anyone come in and help me. No assistant or bored students who are looking for something to do instead of watching yet another movie in their classroom. It is definitely overwhelming. And not knowing what the next school year will bring makes it worse. Everyone’s situation is different, so while I can’t give you specific advice about what you need to do, I hope I have some helpful tips you can use for ending the school year during a pandemic. 

The very first thing you need to do is decide what precautions you need to take before checking in books. There are varying guidelines on this, but the most common advice I have seen is to let books sit for three days before handling them. You may want to spread them out in piles first or put them on book carts. Wearing gloves of course. You might want to check out this website from the American Library Association. And always follow any local guidelines if they are available.

1. Make a plan

Go through your end of the year checklist. What are things that you won’t be able to complete? Cross those off your list. What are things you can do from home? Now, what are you left with? Remember, you may only have a couple hours in your library, so realistically what tasks do you think you will be able to complete during the time you have?

If you need an end of the year checklist to get you started, you can download one here.

2. Create a mental map

Now that you know the tasks you need to complete, think about how you will complete them. In your head, walk through the steps. Do you have books to check-in? Where are the books located? Do you have to collect them from the office? Are they in boxes or tubs or piled up on the floor? Once they’re checked in will you re-shelve them? These are tasks that we do so often, we don’t even need to think about them. So it helps to create that mental map in your head so you are more aware of every little step required to complete these tasks.

3. Be methodical

I tend to one of those people who switch from task to task before any of them are complete. I manage to get everything done, but it’s not the most efficient way to do things. However, during a time like this I can’t afford to do that.

Take your list of tasks you want to get done and prioritize them. Force yourself to finish that task before moving on to the next. If you are in the middle of the task and realize you are running out of time, then you can make the decision to move on to something else. This should be easier to do since you will not be interrupted 8,539 times every hour.

4. Plan for next year (as best as you can)

What might you need to start off the school year? I know we do not know what next year will look like, but you can make some educated guesses. If we are not in a distance learning situation like we are now, I expect specials to be held in classrooms. That might help you to plan a little bit.

At the end of every year, I always keep a box or tub of materials specifically for the first few weeks of school. Now more than ever this will be important. You may have to start teaching remotely in the fall using just the materials in that box. So what do you include? Books you read during the first weeks of school. Your lesson plans, worksheets or other learning materials (games, bingo cards etc). School supplies for you to use at home while teaching your lessons. Pack your document camera if you are allowed to (this may not be possible over the summer). I wish I had my document camera during remote teaching. Even if you don’t take this box home with you now, it will be ready to go come fall.

5. Summer work

Do you want to take anything home to work on over the summer? Do you have new books you can process? Worksheets and lessons you want to create digital versions for? Pack those up and take them with you. You may not have another chance to get back in your school.

Tasks you can complete at home

  1. Run Destiny reports including collection statistics, lost books report, and titles added or deleted to the collection.
  2. Unlike other years, overdue books are not high on our priority list. However, you can still run notices. I would make it clear that parents will not be charged fines. The notices are just to make them aware of what their child has out. If you have parent email addresses in Destiny you can try to send notices that way. If your school uses Class Dojo you can send Dojo messages to students. You can print and mail the notices. And include a note about what parents should do with the books over the summer. Does your school have a drop-off box? Should books be kept at home until fall? Be sure to include that information.
  3. If you have a library website, you can post an end of the year newsletter. Highlight your circulation stats, positive achievements, library programs and any lessons that you are especially proud of.

Don’t forget to reflect

Reflect. Even though the school year ended on such a negative note, remember that you still had 3/4 of the year with your students. Think about the challenges and difficulties you faced (before and after the virus hit. Ending the school year during a pandemic does allow us to truly evaluate ourselves and our plans:

  • What do you plan to do differently next year?
  • What ideas or activities do you definitely want to do again next school year?
  • Write down any plans or ideas you have for next school year so you don’t forget them over the summer.
  • Look through your lesson plans and make any notes about things that went well or you had difficulty with.

End of the Year Freebies

Last year I created a set of book return certificates to hand out to students who have turned in all of their library books. I thought that these might not be appropriate to hand out to students right now, so I made a new set of five generic certificates. They are in a Google slides file. You can edit them to include your name or a personal message (none of the images or background can be changed due to copyright restrictions). You can print them, email them or send them to students through Google Classroom. To edit, just click in the text box and type. Or you can delete the text box altogether. They are in the free resource library. You can also download them by clicking on the image below.

Download your freebie

In the resource library you can find the book return certificates and summer reading challenge pages. Only newsletter subscribers can access the free resource library. Subscribing is easy. Just fill out the form below with your name and email.

One Response

  1. What great ideas! Thank you for sharing! It is nice to know other librarians are in the same boat!. Have a great summer!

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