The Coronavirus crisis has had a major impact on K-12 education in the US. This crisis demonstrates how significant schools are in our society. Many children and families depend on schools to provide childcare for working parents, meals, support and therapy for special needs children, In many communities, and neighborhoods. schools are major employers and centers of activity that hold those communities together. Schools will be affected by the economic downturn caused by the Coronavirus too. State governments and local governments will have less to spend on education because they have needed to spend so much on the epidemic and because income. property and sales tax revenues will be greatly reduced.
Former education Secretary De Voss told Fox News that “Kids have got to continue learning, and schools have got to open up,” DeVos said. “There’s got to be a concerted effort to address the needs of all kids, and adults who are fearmongering and making excuses simply have to stop doing it and turn their attention to what is right for students and for their families.” Teachers and their unions have recognized the problems that school closings create but raised grave concerns about safety issues . As I type this in early 2021. the consensus seems to be that schools can reopen safely if there are sufficient resources, enough space, good ventilation and low rates of community transmission. There are now vaccines available , though they are being produced and administered slowly and are only available to the most vulnerable and at risk adult populations. Rates of new infections are on the rise in many parts of the country and reports of a new and more contagious strain are causing even more concern. President Biden has announced that he would like to see schools open up by early May but whether that will be feasible remains to be seen. School districts and teachers unions in many districts around the nation disagree about whether teachers can safely return to the classroom before they are vaccinated.
Many school districts have instituted virtual and hybrid education. Some parents are considering organizing their own small groups of virtual learners so that parents could take turns supervising their students learning. A July 18 article “Covid school closures: What Happens Next” provides an interesting look at that issue. https://www.vox.com/2020/7/18/21324068/covid-schools-reopening-open-science-coronavirus-pandemic , A July 28th article “Pandemic Pods don’t have to be just for the Rich” https://www.vox.com/2020/7/28/21340222/learning-pods-covid-private-pandemic-education-school describes how schools and community organizations like Y’s and recreation centers are creating similar learning groups and centers for children who will be involved in virtual or hybrid programs so that they can learn together with in person adult support while their parents are at work.
Other societies are facing similar problems. an article entitled “Can Schools Open Up Safely During the Pandemic: Looking Abroad for Answers iIncludes interviews with medical experts in Finland, where low infection overall infection rates are enabling schools to open up and Israel, where schools attempted to open up in a controlled manner , admitting younger children in a socially distanced way but the effort “sort of collapsed” after the government decided to open up fully and there was a societal wide outbreak. It also includes a journalists report about schools in Asia, including Japan and South Korea. https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2020/07/22/classrooms-safe-for-pandemic , discussions about what we can learn from Denmark and Norway, where schools started by opening up for younger children, who are less likely to become infected , severely ill and transmit Covid than older children and adults and have more trouble with on line learning and a report about school reopening in Uruguay, where reopening started in rural areas and students attend school two consecutive days a week to allow space for social distancing.
There is certainly a lot to learn about, think about and write about. If author Dana Goldstein ever updates “Teacher Wars” I would expect that there would be a chapter about the Trump era with a lengthy section about the corona virus crisis and I expect that many of you will have interesting stories to tell students about what this crisis was like and how your local schools got through it 20 years from now
How have schools, teachers and or families in your community managed to continue educating and serving pre K-12 students during the corona crisis so far and what are their plans for the Fall term? If you are a parent or an educator, you can discuss your own experience as well as what you know or can learn from local media, friends and /or family members that you are in contact with who have been affected. Cite any references that you use and consider using the references that I have provided throughout the course. I don’t expect everyone to answer each and every question. It will be OK to base your discussion of your local schools entirely on local media that is available to you if you are not involved in the situation as a school employee, parent or community member and cannot contact a friend or family member who is via phone or email to discuss it. You might want to focus on a specific age group , grade level or special needs population within the community that you are focusing on.
Questions to Consider:
What have schools and teachers done to try to meet student ‘s needs?
What has the experience been like for students and their families?
What are teachers and educators main concerns about the quality of instruction and learning opportunities during the corona virus crisis? Do they feel like they have all of the resources that they need?
What do you and/or or educators you have read about think schools in your community should have done and should do now? What are your local schools planning to do about reopening? Do you support these plans or would you prefer that they do something else? How do your local schools ‘activities and plans compare to those of educators in two or three comparable or very different areas? You can find information about that from three National Public Radio Broadcast s from their “On Point,” series entitled “The Impact of Coronavirus on the Education System” from March 16th 2020 https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2020/03/16/school-closures-coronavirus , April 14th “Covid Learning: How Parents, Educators and Teachers are Adapting their Approach to Education ” https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2020/04/15/covid-19-learning and “So What is School going to look like in the Fall” https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2020/05/28/school-fall-coronavirus-supplement or replace with more current articles
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