There Are Plenty of Reasons Why We Shouldn’t Go Back to School
In America, 60 million children are going back to school, but many don’t want to return to the building, according to The Economist.
The truth is that if we hadn’t already had the virus, I wouldn’t want to send my kids back to school. Having been sick makes me okay with sending my kids back to the building. But, for those who haven’t gotten the virus, I can understand why you’re scared to consider going back to anything that resembles normal.
Are there other factors to consider?
Around 30 million kids receive free or reduced lunch, according to Insider. Many parents who are home or have lost their jobs already have a reduced income, and now they are struggling to feed their kids. Even though many schools have offered curbside pickup for breakfast and lunch meals, some families can’t get to school to pick up meals.
What this means is that some kids are going hungry, not eating, or not eating well. While eating is a necessity, this is not the primary responsibility of the education system and may be putting schools under additional budget stress when welfare and other social service entities already exist for such needs.
In America, there’s another problem. In large part, parents can’t go back to work until the kids go back to school. Kids need a place to go so that parents can go back to work. Unless or until kids can go somewhere for 7–8 hours daily Monday through Friday, parents cannot go back to work, and the economy does not receive the boost it may otherwise be enjoying.
Many colleges and universities that weren’t going to open walked back the decision under hybrid models of on-campus residents and online attendees for learning options.
Older kids can stay home and learn online. By the time kids reach 12 or so years-of-age, most states allow kids to stay home alone.
Younger kids, however, need social development. One study reminds us that, “Adults talk, kids play.” Kids need to learn how to interact with others to develop socially. Children often cannot articulate thoughts and feelings, but can tell us things when they play. Kids need life-like models and role models for how to act in and interact with the world.
Around third or fourth grade, students begin receiving letter grades on report cards. Kindergarten through second-grade students primarily receive checkmarks, check-plus, check-minus, or satisfactory marks. Once students begin receiving letter grades and percentage points, academic performance becomes more serious.
The world has been thrown into beta, and everything we do, from home, to work, to school, to play is a learn-as-you-go process. Our school district was already familiar with Google classroom and GoogleDocs for an active method to issue and turn in assignments but has opted for Schoology as its primary source for ongoing education facilitation.
As with most new things, there are bugs to be worked out and there’s a learning curve. The Schoology design is sleek, and it seems to have promise. It also requires parents’ time to make sure kids have turned in all the necessary homework and met guidelines. So far, we've found turn in assignment buttons when there was no assignment, and the submit options don’t work for material that needs to be turned in.
While junior high and high school students can communicate with teachers about alternative turn-in methods, elementary students need parents for this communication. The district may make this more complicated than necessary so that hours, days, and minutes are logged on the school tracking system. The district must meet certain required levels to receive funding.
A good alternative could be to offer educational games and additional ways to learn through the school system that kids can self-navigate and possibly earn prizes to keep them happily clicking and logged into the school system while parents work.
In the past, standardized tests and a certain number of days were not required, but all standards must be met as we move forward. Even while learning from home, it’s school business as usual.
Schools it seems, have to prove that learning at home can be done well. In short, the educational model has to be proven as a successful measure of academic learning. Academic material across grades will be standardized. The Superintendent says, “We will get back to the excellence in education we’re known for,” but, for now, the top three goals are:
Students have a choice to opt-out for returning to campus for the entire school year if they choose to do so. Younger kids who need the socialization and social element may be in a place where they take additional risks so that kids can eat and parents can work.
The school supply we never thought kids would need is a mask. Masks are required to be worn by any students who wish to return to campus, from the first step onto school property until they reach their classroom destination, any time students travel through the hallways, and again as they leave the classroom and until they are in their parent’s vehicle to return home.
So far, we’ve been given a color-coded, time-coded map of drop off and pick up procedures, times, and places. We also know that parents are not allowed in the building for any reason, but may communicate with office personal from the intercom outside the building.
- No congregating in hallways.
- No school assemblies in the gymnasium or cafeteria
- No taking meals in the cafeteria — eating happens in classrooms
- No sharing of school supplies
- Students must maintain social distancing at all times.
Here’s where new procedures start to get interesting. Young kids can’t always judge their bladder control well. Only two students will be allowed in the bathroom at one time. And students cannot use non-designated bathrooms, bathrooms in other hallways, or in outlying buildings.
All supplies are to be labeled with the student’s name, so they don’t get confused or shared. And all desk and work surfaces are to be wiped down at the beginning and at the end of the day. Older students who move from one class to another will sanitize surfaces at the beginning and ending of every class.
Recess will allow for outside time, but will not allow for kickballs, jump ropes, or anything that can be shared. Students may bring personal property to enjoy during recess time.
New procedures may be added based upon unforeseen needs after students enter the building.
Everything can change in an instant and without notice. Overnight everything can change. If the number of cases goes up or a student’s classmate becomes ill, you may be required to learn from home, for at least a two-week quarantine period, up to an indefinite amount of time.
The new normal is unpredictability. Pack your supplies and your computer for the day and bring them home daily because you may not go back tomorrow.
Our youngest needs interaction with other people. She’s an extrovert with high energy. Going back to school is her strongest desire, and we’re willing to let her go. But, I’m not sure the benefits outweigh the risks for the general population.
The key to opening is to stay flexible. The thinking seems to be let’s open while taking reasonable options. We’ll open and remain open for as long as we can.
How do you feel about the decision to open schools? What implications does opening have for education and for your family’s health? How do you feel about the new normal of the education process?
Should we send kids back to school?