From America’s first satellite launch in 1958 to the recent splashdown of NASA’s Space X Dragon, I’ve always been amazed by American technology.
The Space X blastoff, Dragon’s Space Station docking, separation and return to earth were awesome, but watching its booster rockets return to land on a floating ocean barge was incredible.
It also made me think that any country with that kind of advanced technology surely can figure out how to safely return our children to their classrooms by September.
After weighing pundit pro and con reopening theories, I wondered what opinions were of those primarily affected by that reopening, teachers and students. Today I share comments and concerns from one such local teacher, who, due to the political nature of various opinions I’ve heard on the subject, shall remain nameless for their protection.
“My first concern is students. Keeping teachers safe is important, but perhaps teachers and staff at risk due to age or health conditions could opt for online learning.
“Most schools are offering a choice between hybrid and total virtual learning; I will teach a hybrid version: Group A Monday and Tuesday; Group B Thursday and Friday, both in class. Wednesday is reserved for cleaning the building, teacher planning and reviewing students’ online work. Students will do three days of online work each week.
“When school went online last spring, 1/3 of my class did nothing, 1/3 completed some work and 1/3 (typically those with supportive parents) did very good work. Students were given a participate/did-not-participate grade and administrators have promised that students will be held to higher standards this fall. They also promise to retain students who do not complete work.
“I’m concerned for students’ home and online learning; what will happen to those with no home Internet service, or, those with parents not willing or able to help with studies?
“I’m concerned for students younger than sixth grade who may stay home alone while parents work if they can’t find or afford day care. Also for students older than sixth grade who have little or no home supervision; what are they watching? What Internet sites might they be spending time on?
“I’m also concerned for students who are abused at home (physically-sexually-verbally); school is often their only escape. And what about students who depend upon school breakfast and lunch but will only be there to eat two days each week?
“Some students will be left with grandparents who are high risk for COVID instead of being at school while parents work. Also, if children aren’t contracting COVID like older people, why not keep them in school full time? If we learn of cases in our schools we can adjust in class vs. online learning.
“If students are placed in daycare three days a week, they can get sick there as well, only no learning is taking place.
“If students are in school a few days a week and daycare other days, won’t we increase their exposure to different children and staff, making it harder to track where an outbreak has occurred?
“With no data proving area schools are high risk for COVID, why not return full swing with safety precautions then adjust accordingly? Monroe County remains a low risk area. Why compromise student’s academic, psychological and emotional welfare for a hypothetical situation? Also, if masks work, why not go back?
“Younger children especially learn better in person. I worry about how far behind K-3 students may fall as readers and learners; I’m also concerned for students who need speech, special education services, behavioral support, and social work intervention.”
I so appreciate the time and effort this teacher gave me, as well as the obvious dedication and concern for students; next week I hope to share similar perspectives from them.
Finally, let me add that while I would do ANYTHING to protect the health, safety and well-being of my children and grandchildren, I have faith that we are an advanced society more than capable of safely returning our children to school while dealing with this pandemic.
I’ll also add that while I don’t doubt its authenticity – much in the same manner I acknowledge that a strain of the flu comes EVERY year – I do believe there is more to this one than meets the eye.
But, what do I know.
Contact Tom Treece at email@example.com.