Aug 16, 2021
In the spring of 2020, a prominent newspaper’s headline read: “For All Practical Purposes, School Stopped in March.” Because from the very beginning of the pandemic, since March of 2020, it was madness. Nothing was centralized. Nothing was standardized.
From school superintendents, individual teachers and other school personnel, parents, and students, every school district was supposed to figure out how to navigate this pandemic on its own. With its own resources, including from the pockets of teachers and parents. And the only central solution offered was to propose that school should be done remotely, or in some cases, in “hybrid” form, allegedly until schools were safe.
We see how that worked. It didn’t. A lost school year, for all practical purposes, academically and socially, for children of all ages.
And yes, no big surprise, there were even bigger losses for the children of the working class, and children living in smaller towns and rural areas. Their areas had weak or no wi-fi connection. Their homes had no or limited laptops, not to mention few adults at home who could automatically morph into teachers and coaches and counselors. Their parents were and are the essential workers.
Fast forward to today when the only proposal that is being made to return children to safe, in-person schooling is to mask. In Michigan, the State Board of Education proposes to let individual school districts decide! Once again, everything that is being proposed from on high does NOTHING to make our children and school staff safe. Does NOTHING to make sure kids are able to catch up academically, physically and socially.
Our kids are already behind. The damage of having fallen behind academically in the last year and a half has to be addressed with a plan that will guarantee safe and enriching and quality educational and cultural and social experiences in the future.
What is needed is a tidal wave of resources. To achieve social distancing, and therefore smaller class sizes, build more classrooms, renovate existing available buildings, and build new ones. Provide teachers and other school personnel with high salaries and benefits, and encourage and financially support more young people to become educators. Provide extensive nursing staff and mental health personnel. Upgrade ventilation systems in existing buildings and make them essential in the new buildings.
More school buses, more cleaning supplies, more of everything. These are the first steps in protecting and educating our children.