More K-12 school administrators are either preparing or have already reopen(ed) school campuses amidst subsiding COVID related health concerns, declining infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
Of course, variants (viruses evolve) or declining vaccination rates leading to worsening infection, hospitalization and even death rates, would lead to a likely-swift reversal of school reopenings.
Reopen, yes, but not fully business as usual as most school schedules will be modified to abide social distancing standards and yet accommodate the total school population, like splitting the students into cohorts, attending school in alternate shifts on alternating days. In some secondary schools, the instructional time with teachers will also be reduced given the new hybrid schedules.
Therefore, students and parents should not expect a return to the normal that existed before the closures of March 2020. Many school district officials instead propose returning students to classrooms in phases, typically the youngest students and those entitled to special educational supports, returning first while secondary school students will return last.
Many elementary aged parents are supportive of returning their littles to the classroom, as young ones’ attention spans are typically not conducive to learning through Zoom School and therefore risk delaying learning the basics such as math, reading and writing. Parents also generally must be more attentive during school hours, effectively being a teacher’s aide diverting attention from their own careers in order to support their children’s learning.
Many secondary school students, however, aren’t as enthusiastic to return to classrooms. While many acknowledge the social-emotional tolls associated with with the loss of freedom experienced in high school and by participating in afterschool activities, they do not equate hybrid schooling—two days of instruction in classrooms organized into smaller cohorts (possibly without their friends), yet still subjected to all the restrictions of a classroom (bathroom hall passes, no eating or cell phones during class etc), and the rest of the week more Zoom schooling for the rest of the week —as a return to normal.
And, for the most part parents of secondary school students are supportive of their children finishing the school year virtually. Their kids are self-sufficient enough that parents’ work schedules would be more disrupted transporting kids back and forth to school, for only a few hours, and typically ending in the middle of a work day. And extracurricular activities are not scheduled to resume to the old normal, with only some sports able to compete, albeit in modified form, therefore not worth the costs.
The COVID health crisis ushered in an unprecedented disruption to the business of educating the young. Families, as well as school systems have adopted, often on the fly, with mixed results. As the worst of the crisis seems to be past us, and slowly, with fits and starts, a degree of normalcy is on the horizon one can’t help but wonder the effects on an entire generation of students who will one day tell the story to their grandchildren how they participated in the great educational experiment of virtual learning.
For more information about how Creative Marbles Consultancy can help students and parents during the transition to new educational modes of learning, contact us at Creative Marbles Consultancy