“If I could bubble wrap them, I’d do that,” said Pavanish Nirula, of San Jose, whose 15-year-old daughter will be starting 11th grade this fall, while his 17-year-old son goes off to college.EdSource June 29, 2020
In conversations I’ve had with parents of late regarding the upcoming school year, they have echoed Mr. Nirula’s sentiments both in terms of safeguarding their children’s health and the quality of their children’s educational experience. Furthermore, parents seem to be grieving what’s missing from their child’s high school experiences, like graduations, rallies, and football games, recognizing the process of developing self-sufficiency, a key stage in their children’s development, has been wholly disrupted.
After their experiences this past spring, parents doubt if teachers can shift their pedagogy to suit online delivery of what has always been a traditional classroom instructional system by Fall. Thus, despite the hardships of arranging work schedules and childcare to keep kids home:
A nationwide USA Today/Ipsos poll found that 6 out of 10 parents with at least one child in grades K-12 said they would likely pursue at-home learning instead of sending their children back to school in the fall.EdSource June 29, 2020
My dentist, who’s also the parent to two elementary-aged students, also shared that she’s researching alternative programs, like independent study schools, which have established systems for monitoring at-home learning so she can bringing her older child to her offices, rather than sending her kids back to school given she doubts they will learn effectively.
In discussions with other parents of high school students, they worry that their kid will not qualify for college admissions in three years or be adequately prepared for college, given the diminished quality of online learning, so many are seeking alternative educational institutions until the pandemic passes.
With K-12 school administrators, counselors, teachers, and support staff sequestered in their individual homes, this past spring, students and parents often couldn’t communicate concerns about their kids’ education or have them addressed in a timely fashion. When one advanced math teacher decided he and two other math teachers would team teach all their various class sections, over 100 students, each one only Zoom teaching lessons once a week, students and parents objections to such a teaching reassignment were not addressed, nor did the administration stop the change in instructional approach.
After the experiencing a diminished quality of education, plus now knowing the unpreparedness for such an emergency, families are questioning, if not bordering on distrusting, that school administrators have their students’ best interests in mind as the fall of 2020 quickly approaches.
“I don’t feel comfortable letting them go into a school and trust that the administration, that has not really protected the kids and wasn’t really prepared, will protect the kids in class. I feel like it’s impossible to guarantee to parents that they won’t fall ill,” [Rashida] Dunn-Nasr said [parent of four children aged 8 to 13]EdSource June 29, 2020
Thus, as administrators prepare to reconvene school communities in school buildings, restoring the trust between teachers, parents, students, administrators and staff will be essential. Yet, testing everyone’s temperature before entering the building, enforcing mask wearing, social distancing behind plexiglass, aren’t conditions necessarily conducive to rebuilding such trust. If parents are compelled to keep students home this fall that will create even more stress to educational systems that are being challenged in ways for which it is difficult to find historical precedent. Stay tuned for more.