Back to School In Our New Reality

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Back to School In Our New RealityEveryone has an opinion about the reopening of schools amid the pandemic, but I think we can all agree on a few things: 1. We want our kids to return to school. 2. The upcoming school year is going to be very different from anything we have ever experienced. 3. There is no perfect solution.

  1. We want our kids to return to school. I am a high school Spanish teacher. I will have a second grader and a fifth grader this school year. My husband works from home. It is merely an impossible task for all of us to be productive at the same time throughout the day. It is extremely difficult to conduct virtual classes while also making sure my own kids are completing all of their schoolwork the correct way or even making sure they are actually working on school work. My husband needs us to be quiet for his conference calls, which is not possible if we are on video calls. I want to be in school, I want my kids to be in school, my kids want to be in school, and of course, my husband wants us all out of the house so he can work in peace. Kids need school, for more than just learning, as school provides for the social and emotional well-being of many students. However, is the health of our children more important than returning to school? Of course. The American Academy of Pediatrics urges a safe return to school this fall, so let me reassure you that schools that choose to reopen will have protocols in place. Schools are not just going to just simply reopen without a plan.
  2. The upcoming school year is going to be very different from anything we have ever experienced. Last spring as schools closed, students were not required to complete any work. Yes, many schools and teachers provided work, but due to the situation, teachers were not allowed to penalize students for not completing it. Basically, their grades were not impacted due to school closure. It was an emergency situation that none of us had ever seen before. Due to the situation in the spring, superintendents, administrators, and teachers have been working hard over the summer to come up with a plan for the new school year. It is very likely that schools will open, close, reopen, and possibly close again throughout the year. Students, teachers, and parents are going to have to be prepared for this. This means that if school closes at any point this year, students are going to be required to complete work as if they are still in school. Obviously, in-person learning is ideal; however, parents, teachers, and students are going to have to be flexible and will have to adapt to the situation. Parents are going to have to work closely with teachers to facilitate their child’s learning. I understand this is difficult and may seem impossible for many working parents, especially for younger children, but it will have to be done. If this seems overwhelming, just know that you are not alone.
  3. There is no perfect solution. Most schools are providing computers for all students this school year so students will have access to learning materials if school closes or if parents do not feel comfortable sending their kids to school, students can complete their work virtually. There is no perfect solution for educating children during a pandemic. There are still many questions. What if a student does not have internet access? What if someone in the school gets COVID? Is my child going to be required to wear a mask? How will students “social distance” at school? Will teachers have enough Clorox wipes and sanitizer to keep their classrooms clean? I can go on and on with questions. What I do know is that the school system where I am employed (which is the same system that my own children attend) has a plan and I am very confident in sending my kids back to school, as well as returning back to my classroom to teach, at least at the beginning of the school year.

I think that schools that choose to open on time this fall will likely close again sooner rather than later. I just want to meet my students in person at least for a little while. I want my own kids to meet their teachers in person as well. I think it’s important to have those face-to-face interactions even if it’s just for a few days or weeks. At the same time, I want it to be safe to do so. If it’s not, we will have to adapt and do the best we can to educate kids from home.

What are your thoughts on returning to school this fall?

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