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Sun Jul 12, 2020, 02:57 PM

Reopen schools in fall, yes, but do it safely

There was a time when the phrase “back to school” led mostly to parents’ thoughts of shopping trips for deals on clothes and class supplies and — for kids, at least — a melancholy countdown of the last days of summer vacation.

With the approach of autumn, children might be feeling as much eagerness as their parents for a return to the classroom especially after the last months of spring ended with students being sent home in an effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic, finishing out the school year with online tutoring and parents as ad-hoc educators. For many kids and parents, the experience provided a new appreciation for the work of teachers and an eagerness to return to school, proper.

But as COVID-19 infections continue their rise in several states — with 3 million total U.S. cases and more than 130,000 U.S. deaths and an estimated 166,000 deaths by Sept. 1 — the nation’s inability to limit the spread of the disease has muted that anticipation.

With one significant exception.

Last week, President Trump demanded that schools reopen fully and in-person this fall or risk the loss of federal funding, rejecting any proposals by states and school districts to use online learning for even part of the school week. That demand, of course, fails to recognize the differences among states in rates of infection and the flexibility that schools require to serve their students effectively and safely.


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Reply Reopen schools in fall, yes, but do it safely (Original post)
Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin Jul 12 OP
Alliepoo Jul 12 #1
Igel Jul 12 #3
elleng Jul 12 #2

Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Sun Jul 12, 2020, 03:06 PM

1. Imo there's really no safe way to physically open schools.

Virtual classes/ distance learning would be the safest thing to do for now.

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Response to Alliepoo (Reply #1)

Sun Jul 12, 2020, 08:56 PM

3. Mental health is at issue.

Mental health is one issue. The idea of parents abusing kids is another. What constructive things did the 20% of my sophomores, juniors, and seniors do that didn't ever check in for 9 weeks at the end of the last year? I know some of them decided to work 40 hours a week. But the sophomores?

Then there's a second. Early grades require in-person help--otherwise the kids will be handicapped in their education in later years.

Education level is strongly correlated to health and life expectancy. Die now or die later. With most people discounting future risk and assuming that it'll be handled--but it seldom is, because at every step it'll be handled "later."

And even later grades ... If an online student's struggling, it's hard to sort out what's up. Online isn't for everyone. The research shows who it's good for. And a big chunk of my students, even with "best practices," will lose out. They mess up chemistry as a sophomore, they take AP chemistry and they're in the hole going a difficult class. "Lower the standards!" Right. Academic rigor has no constituency. But the AP test looms after AP chem, and that's geared to college chemistry. Which is geared to regional accrediting and professional organizations. So the kids who get weak 10th grade chem are at a disadvantage. Unless they're in that special 25% or so.

Third. There's no federal waiver yet for free/reduced meals. If you're not in physical attendance, currently as the law is written (remember "rule of law" then you can't qualify, meaning you don't get the free food. It's a carrot to get at-risk kids to school.

4th. Kids don't return to school, parents have a problem. All the free day care they've come to rely on vanishes. (Then again, are day cares open?) Parental stress is child stress.

I find that "safest" can be construed every narrowly, if we define it that way. Or a bit broadly. Narrow is easy and pacifying. Broad just creates uncertainty and a bit of anxiety.

I teach high school science in a 35-year-old building with no windows. My room was intended for 20 students, 25 at most. It routinely has 30 kids in it. I've had to fit up to 35 in it. Intended to hold 3,000 students, the school a couple of years ago had over 4k.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Sun Jul 12, 2020, 03:06 PM

2. 'The demand, however, is as toothless as it is wrong-headed.

Most taxpayers, especially those paying property taxes, already are well aware that state and school district taxpayers provide about 90 percent of the funding for public schools. The remaining 10 percent of federal funding — largely used to improve services for low-income children and those with special needs — is appropriated by Congress, with little opportunity for the president to use that funding as a rap of a ruler across the knuckles.

Even Betsy DeVos, Trump’s secretary of Education, seemed to admit she and Trump had limited authority to withhold funding. When asked on Fox News earlier in the week if Department of Education funding could be withheld as pressure to fully reopen schools, DeVos could only sidestep the question: “Well, that’s definitely something to be looked at.” Translation: No.'

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