Face-to-face classroom training disappeared in 2020 as the corporate workforce took measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Now, as more global workers are vaccinated, offices are opening back up and in-person classroom training is returning. Whether you are planning face-to-face training internally or delivering the experience for clients, here is the trainer’s guide to safely returning to in-person classroom training.
Know Your Policies
The first step is to know the health safety policies governing your space. Most likely, the building managers, human resources, or venue host have already put together robust guidelines for keeping everyone inside safe. If not, you may need to create the policies yourself. Either way, make sure you know the plan for:
- Participant Health Screening – Will you require participants to be vaccinated before entering the classroom? Will you use screening questions to refuse them entry if they have experienced symptoms recently or traveled to high-risk areas? How will you document this process?
- Temperature Screening – Will you require participants to submit to a temperature check before entering the classroom? If this is a multi-day course, how often will you check their temperatures?
- Masks – Will you require participants and trainers to wear masks inside the classroom? If so, are there any circumstances during which they are permitted to remove them (such as to sip water)? What about in the break areas? How will you handle non-compliant participants?
- Physical Contact Expectations – Are participants allowed to make physical contact, such as handshakes or high-fives? How will you enforce this?
- Classroom Sanitization – How often will surfaces in the classroom be sanitized? How will they be sanitized? Who will be responsible for this cleaning?
Plan for Health Logistics
Classroom trainers are already pros at planning for logistics such as check-in tables and handouts, but now you have an extra layer to think about: health safety. Before showing up to the classroom, make sure you have taken into consideration the logistics of how you will keep participants safe. This includes:
- Social distancing within the classroom – If your policies require you to keep a certain amount of distance between participants, you will need to plan out seating carefully. This may include having a six-foot table for each participant, or using masking tape to mark out safe distances on the floor. It may even require you to change up venues so you can use a bigger room or take advantage of breakout spaces.
- Safety in break areas and bathrooms – If your participants will be leaving the classroom for other areas in the building, then you will want to make sure you have plans for hygiene there, too. This may include removing chairs or tables from break rooms to limit capacity or setting up a bathroom system to limit the number of participants using the facilities at any given time.
- Hand sanitizer, back-up masks, and other hygienic supplies – You will need to make sure you are stocked up on all the supplies that will keep participants safe. This includes hand sanitizer stations, planning for at least one participant to forget their face mask, and cleaning supplies. Check out the EPA’s list of sanitization supplies to make sure you are stocked up.
Communication about Classroom Health Policies
Finally, your planning around health safety will do no good if your participants aren’t aware of their expected behavior. After reviewing your policies and making a plan for the classroom, set up communication before, during, and after the face-to-face session.
- Before – Send out emails, texts, and/or mailers explaining to your participants what your policies are and how you expect them to comply. This includes health screening forms, social distancing plans, and personal hygiene expectations. You may want to provide resources such as this video from the World Health Organization to make sure they know how and when to wear masks.
- During – Make sure to remind participants of how you need them to cooperate with health guidelines throughout the class. This includes making announcements at the start of the face-to-face training. It may also include hanging posters or handing out job aids that educate them on how to follow good hygiene practices. You can grab standard guidelines from the World Health Organization here.
- Communication plan for if someone tests positive for COVID-19 (or other infectious disease) – You need a plan in place for how to communicate with your classroom training participants in case one of them (or you) tests positive for an infectious disease. Make sure you know who will send out the communication, what channels they will use, and how you plan to proceed with the training.
- After – Finally, once your classroom training ends, you may want to send out a survey to find out how your participants felt about their health safety. Did they find your policies appropriate? Did they feel safe from infectious diseases? Was there anything that inhibited them from learning?
Returning to classroom training post-pandemic comes with a few additional challenges. As with all things, however, as long as you plan ahead, communicate, and provide some on-the-spot resources, you can keep everyone involved healthy.