Sending Kids Back to School: Another COVID-19 Reading Roundup

August 5, 2020 K.O. Herston 0 Comments

Among the many articles about sending children back to school amidst the spreading pandemic, I find these to be interesting. Click the links to see read the entire article.

Tennessee back to school

Opening Schools Won’t Be Easy, but Here’s How to Do It Safely

First, schools cannot reopen safely when community transmission is high and climbing. In our view, schools should open only in places that have fewer than 75 confirmed cases per 100,000 people cumulatively over the previous seven days, and that have a test positivity rate below 5 percent. By our count, 12 states and the District of Columbia meet both metrics. In many larger states, some counties or cities meet those criteria. Even with those numbers, about one in 1,300 people might return to school with a case of the coronavirus, meaning a school of 350 students, faculty and staff will have roughly a one-in-four chance of someone coming in with Covid-19. (Many countries, such as Japan, Austria, and Italy, have suppressed the virus to the extent that they have fewer than one in 10,000 people with confirmed cases.)

Second, schools should avoid high-risk activities. This means no contact sports either in the gym or in competitive athletics for high school students. It also means no band, choir, or drama performances. We know that this will be both disappointing and difficult. But close contact for prolonged periods of time with forced exhalations is what increases the risk of transmission. Playing football and basketball and wrestling simply cannot be done safely. We understand that missing a season could lead to missed scholarships for student athletes. But these activities will have to wait a year. That said, we should allow outside physical activity on playgrounds, ideally with masks, and noncontact sports like track and field.

(Ezekiel J. Emanuel, Saskia Popescu, and James Phillips, Opening Schools Won’t Be Easy, but Here’s How to Do It Safely, The New York Times, July 29, 2020)

Closed Cafeterias, ‘Recess’ at Your Desk: School Will Be Weird Next Fall

After my more than 20 years as a teacher, it’s not hard to sell me on the benefits of in-person education. But as political leaders push districts to reopen schools, and as various academic and education organizations stress the virtues of in-school instruction, I worry. Reopening recommendations seem to assume that schools will function the way they did before the pandemic and, critically, that they’ll yield the same benefits. They won’t. Reading through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that most districts are (and should be) using to plan for the new school year, it’s clear that even if school is held in person, it’ll be unlike anything we’ve seen before — a model that goes against my decades of professional experience and training. Your children will not recognize it. Neither will most teachers.

(Lisa Mueller, Closed Cafeterias, ‘Recess’ at Your Desk: School Will Be Weird Next Fall, The Washington Post, July 23, 2020)

Here’s What It Could Look like If Schools Reopened Today

Steps can be taken now to avoid this dystopian scenario. States where infections are escalating need to revert to an earlier phase and close bars, restaurants, and other indoor gathering spots. As for schools, they should begin instruction virtually and hold off on in-person plans until October; it will take at least three to four weeks for the new restrictions to have an effect and a few more weeks to ensure that the trend holds.

States with fewer infections may be able to proceed with in-person instruction if they implement proper safeguards. Many districts have thoughtful plans to bring back younger students and children with special needs first, while providing full online instruction. What about those unable to take online classes from home or who depend on schools for food and other social needs? Setting up “safe centers for online learning” in schools and other empty community spaces, as some have proposed, could be useful.

(Leana Wen, Here’s What It Could Look like If Schools Reopened Today, The Washington Post, July 28, 2020)

A School Reopens, and the Coronavirus Creeps In

One of the first school districts in the country to reopen its doors during the coronavirus pandemic did not even make it a day before being forced to grapple with the issue facing every system actively trying to get students into classrooms: What happens when someone comes to school infected?

Just hours into the first day of classes on Thursday, a call from the county health department notified Greenfield Central Junior High School in Indiana that a student who had walked the halls and sat in various classrooms had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Administrators began an emergency protocol, isolating the student and ordering everyone who had come into close contact with the person, including other students, to quarantine for 14 days. It is unclear whether the student infected anyone else.

“We knew it was a when, not if,” said Harold E. Olin, superintendent of the Greenfield-Central Community School Corporation, but were “very shocked it was on Day 1.”

(Eliza Shapiro, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, and Shawn Hubler, The New York Times, August 1, 2020)

Burnt Out on Home Schooling? How to Get through the Rest of the Year

Remember teachers are in this with you. Many teachers are parents themselves, and will give you grace if you can have a conversation with them about your stresses. “Remember the big picture — this is global, and I have to remind myself of that: It’s not just happening to me, it’s happening to everyone,” Marsden said. Teachers are already preparing for kids to be in a different shape this fall socially, emotionally and academically then a typical set of returning students.

Teachers really miss your kids, too. “The deeper and deeper we go into quarantine, I’m really missing my connections with my students,” said Marsden, adding that updates from parents about their kids’ lives are always appreciated. She was recently moved by a video of one of her students who had learned to ride a two-wheeler. “Share your celebrations of home and life,” she said “because it’s happening around us even in this time of chaos.”

(Jessica Grose, Burnt Out on Home Schooling? How to Get through the Rest of the Year, The New York Times, May 13, 2020)

Tennessee online school

Online School Is Not the End of the World

Online learning has been difficult for me. It is much more challenging to connect with teachers and peers through a screen. But overall, I realize that I am extremely lucky to have a computer to learn with and a quiet space to work in this troubling time.

* * * * *

Online school is not the end of the world. It has turned out to be mediocre. Some teachers adapt well, while others do the bare minimum. But I can’t say that isn’t true with in-person school. Some teachers and classes are better than others. Overall, I would say that online school is comparable to in person. The main difference is that after-school activities and electives are not the same.

(Lora Kelley, Online School Is Not the End of the World, The New York Times, July 25, 2020)

Worried Your Kid Is Falling Behind? You’re Not Alone

If you’re concerned that remote learning may have set your child back academically, brace yourself: It probably has. When students return to school, research shows that most will be behind where they would have been if classroom instruction had continued as normal. And with an increasing number of districts announcing a return to online learning, the collective angst in my own parenting circles has reached a fever pitch. The question comes up constantly: When do we need to start panicking about our children falling behind?

Deborah Stipek, Ph.D., a professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, said that may not be the right question to ask. “I think a more useful one is, ‘How do we ensure that our children get the best possible opportunities to learn under these challenging circumstances?’” she said.

(Holly Burns, Worried Your Kid Is Falling Behind? You’re Not Alone, the New York Times, July 30, 2020)

Held Back: As Parents Realize How Badly the U.S. Botched the Next School Year, We’re Furious

The implicit bargain of the spring was that if everyone complied with the shutdowns, the isolation, the social distancing, the working-while-parenting disasters and the rest, the government would use that time to build enough testing, tracing and public health infrastructure so that students could safely go back to school in person in the fall.

Instead, having utterly failed to contain the virus, the administration is now employing the crafty tactic of attempting to draw attention away from the pandemic — as if we could be distracted out of noticing that we can no longer safely leave our homes, we have no functioning public institutions (libraries, museums, schools), we have lost more than 139,000 American lives, and we are well on our way into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

(Dana Stevens, Held Back: As Parents Realize How Badly the U.S. Botched the Next School Year, We’re Furious, The Washington Post, July 24, 2020)

Why Parents Now Face an Impossible Choice

This pandemic infects our lives and politics with false choices — save lives, or livelihoods? Defend freedom, or wear a mask? Protect the old, or teach the young? But the choice about sending kids to school this fall is anything but false. “Everybody wants it,” insists President Trump. “The moms want it. The dads want it. The kids want it.” Yet the issue is not desire; like with anything valuable, it’s price. What is it worth to see classrooms open — and how can parents possibly do that calculation?

(Nancy Gibbs, Why Parents Now Face an Impossible Choice, The Washington Post, July 28, 2020)

Sending Kids Back to School: Another COVID-19 Reading Roundup was last modified: August 1st, 2020 by K.O. Herston

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