‘Back to school’ in a Pandemic. Ugh.
Going back to school. It’s literally a no-win situation at this point amid COVID-19. It feels like no matter what is chosen people aren’t happy. Here’s the thing though folks: there’s no way everyone will be happy anyway. That solution doesn’t exist. However, there IS a solution. Whether we like it or not. And the best solution is one that puts the kids first.
I stumbled across a graphic in a friend’s feed the other day that was the first idea that made sense to me. Here it is:
Anyway, It just makes sense to me. We have a pandemic so we shouldn’t have large numbers of people inside buildings. We just shouldn’t. But at the same time we also have a childcare crisis. Kids need supervision, an education, AND a way to not catch/spread COVID-19. Personally, I don’t like the idea of ‘Well they don’t really spread it blah blah blah’ because we just don’t KNOW that yet. We don’t know much at all about this virus yet, and honestly and I’m not in favor of using our children as guinea pigs. Open up professional sports and corporate offices first and report back. Risk the members of congress before my kids, please. The fact that Disney World is open, but their corporate people are still working from home should raise some red flags… the same flags as sending our kids back to the classroom before a bunch of drunk dudes at an NFL game.
Does every kid actually need to GO back to school?
Yeah, I know how incredibly lucky I am that I can just keep my kids home without any trouble (besides losing my sanity). And that weighs on me. Because I know how important having kids in school is to so many American families. Schools are a lot more than just a place to receive an education for a lot of kids. They’re a place of safety and a place to get a hot meal among other things.
So let me expound upon the bright idea from the mystery person above.
Let the kids that NEED in person school (for childcare, for food, for safety, due to lack of personal resources, etc) go to school. Have the kids who CAN stay home learn from home. Yep, take my sanity for the sake of ALL the children. Not just my own.
In my head a proper ‘back to school’ looks like this:
Children who need to be physically in school get to be in school. Teachers teach their entire class ONLINE, meaning teachers stay physically out of the classroom. Like the graphic says, to minimize disruptions in learning. Does that mean teachers are on zoom all day? No, it means they are teaching like they normally would. I’m speaking specifically for elementary school here, but teachers aren’t lecturing all the time. They spend time 1:1 with students, supervising independent work, and grading assignments while the kids eat lunch. etc. Maybe that means a couple of hours Zooming in the morning and a couple in the afternoon for the younger kids with time in between for breaks, play, lunch, and independent work. For older kids maybe that looks like multiple different zooms with different teachers or watching several pre-recorded lectures a day, just like changing classes. The schedule will depend on the grade, the material, and the specific make up of the class.
So who’s taking care of the kids?
Now, for those kids who need to be physically present in the schools they can be supervised and cared for by childcare workers/ school staff who are willing and able to work inside the school. These heroes can help the students with work in between zooms as needed like teachers’ aides, provide lunch for the students, and generally provide the care and support our children need. If we consider teachers to be like doctors, then these folks would be the nurses. THEY ARE UBER IMPORTANT!
Opening schools doesn’t have to mean mass exposure
By limiting in-school attendance to those who NEED to be there means there should be fewer students in the schools (making social distancing much, much easier). Another cool concept? The rooms in which students are assigned will not be specific to one teacher or grade, assuming each student ‘attends class’ from a computer. This means you can keep siblings and kids who socialize out of school together, further minimizing exposure. Think about it: 10-15 kids in a room with the same 1-2 childcare workers every day; eating lunch together, timed bathroom breaks, and bus routes associated with classrooms… it’s a much, much smaller bubble.
What about the schools that still ‘fill up’ in person?
What about the schools in poorer areas where the majority of kids might need to be physically in school? Check out the nearby schools that might have fewer kids and even it out. Now is not the time to play politics.
Think about it: We have these buildings built for kids. To educate, entertain, feed, and keep kids safe… sitting empty. Why the hell aren’t we already doing this? We have a childcare crisis going on due to COVID-19 already and the resources to provide it RIGHT THERE, RIGHT NOW. We watched schools feed kids over the summer, why the hell can’t kids go there while their parents HAVE to work now? Not everyone is as financially fortunate as me to be able to stay home. And many people can’t afford the exorbitant cost of private childcare either. Kids are more likely to bounce around between relatives, neighbors, and friends, sent to camps and home daycares, coming in contact with many more people than they really NEED to. We’re in crisis mode here people. We use schools as shelters during hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods… why can’t they shelter our kids now?
So yeah, let’s go back to school. Safely.
So yes, let’s open the schools. And use them to help EVERYONE. Not just to be open for the sake of being open. Let them be the safe haven to children and their families that NEED them. I pay my taxes every year for those schools and I want them OPEN. But not in a way that’s going to crush working parents, endanger teachers, and treat American children as a bizarre science experiment. My kids CAN stay at home so they will. I want those schools as safe as humanly possible for the families that don’t have that choice. To me, that means keeping my kids out in order for that space to be used SAFELY for a child and family that needs it. That child is just as important as mine.
I’m not saying this idea is perfect…. but are any of them?
So that’s my thoughts on the matter. Is it perfect? No. I’m sure there are a million problems with it. But the bottom line is this: Kids need an education, teachers need a safe work environment, working parents need a safe place for their kids to go, There are people out there that needs the jobs schools provide, and no one should walk away ‘getting something’ out of this.
Anyone else have any bright ideas? Because at this point I think all ideas deserve a closer look.