It’s 2020 and it is the most controversial return to a school year in our history. Returning students (and teachers) to school has become a political divide and I am sad to see this happen when we are talking about children and our future. Schools are not only places for learning but so much more. Many parents, especially those who are essential workers, depend on school as a safe place for their children while they work. Many other workers (even those working from home) depend on the structure of the school day. Yet, sending kids to school may cause (as we’ve seen in other states) two weeks of no school if someone tests positive. Along with students you have the teachers on the campus. One student in classroom A testing positive puts others at risk because teacher A goes into the teacher’s lounge and interacts with other teachers (hopefully masked but not while eating lunch). So it is a quagmire of risks. I don’t have all the answers, nor did anyone ask me to solve the solution. I do know that I think getting those students who have struggled the most with distance learning–those with special needs –back to school first should be a priority. Social distancing, hand washing, sanitation, and other precautions would be easier to maintain with smaller class sizes and more adults present. Some parents don’t want their child to be a “test sample” for opening schools and I get that too. However, I do see it as a viable option and some CA districts did try this for summer school and I haven’t seen the anecdotal numbers indicate failure. A second, an in my opinion viable, option is for special education assistants to go to homes to assist parents in keeping their children with special needs engaged in the learning process. ABA companies have been allowing staff to go into homes, with the necessary precautions (including scheduling a minimum of staff per client). And, the numbers have not come back that these are “hot spots” like the restaurants and bars. Children with special needs deserve this consideration. I’m working with families to request this through the IEP process.
A final point that I will state (and it may not be popular) but children are resilient. They will make up for the time lost in this pandemic. Yes, it will be an adjustment to get back and we will need to look at the data. But children don’t need to be reduced to data. Let’s give them credit for what they teach us.
In it all, take care of yourself. Parents can not be forced to be teachers. Do what you can, know that we will get through this, and your child(ren) will be ok.