Should I be prepared to send my children back to school in the fall?

Families/Kids School

Q: And what can I do to prepare if so?

A: We all want to say yes yes YES, but there are a number of considerations.

We keep schools closed to limit the spread of infection. Past pandemics have taught us this. The data for our current pandemic are murkier; this is primarily because data come from time points when schools were already closed. Still, some emerging data from China suggest that transmission from children may represent a lower proportion than previously thought. More testing and data is needed to determine whether or not this conclusion stands.  Link to article in The Economist

Despite this discrepancy, there could be many benefits to reopening schools. Among important considerations: Parents can be more productive; we can level the playing ground for children whose families may have less social and economic resources to continue home instruction; and schools can serve as hubs for many services like education on the pandemic, nutrition support, and supportive social services for families. Schools are central to the fabric of our societies and do not only serve our children, but our families too.

There are a number of factors to consider before this is possible. In the U.S. context, sending our children back to school relies upon: 1) State/local guidance based on phase of reopening; 2) Targeted reopening based on age groups (youngest children have priority as their learning depends on play, interaction, and resource intensive teaching (and most of us are not equipped to do this at home while working!); 3) A new vision of “normalcy” in education. Some countries in Europe (like Denmark) and in Asia (like Taiwan) provide lessons for how we may feasibly reopen. Link to World Economic Forum article

The key must haves:

1) Increased sanitation and hygiene measures with daily deep cleaning of school facilities;

2) Smaller class sizes necessitating rotating schedules and increased availability of child care services;

3) Prioritization for vulnerable groups (younger children, children transitioning to elementary, middle, or high school and/or pending state/national testing);

4) Increased instructional hours through blended formats or extended school year for all;

5) Alternative attendance policies without penalty towards families who opt not to send their children to in-class instruction;

6) Limited gatherings and parent participation in school events;

7) Blended learning wtih distance/online/remote instruction continuing for the next academic year and

8) Continued support for social and emotional learning and increased mental health support for children and families.

We understand that this is a lot to digest. But, we can continue to be prepared for the adjustments we may need to make if we are ready to send our children back to school in the fall of 2020. Continue to support your child’s social and emotional needs so that they are ready for what is to come too. Here is a great list of learning resources for parents and educators.

Finally, continue to model adaptability and flexibility. Our own behavior will best prepare our children to go back to school in the fall.


Link to original FB post