I just completed a survey for my state’s education association about COVID-19 and it impacts on K-12 education in Arizona. More specifically if we are ready to open in the fall. And I have an un popular opinion, we need to reopen, not just for learning but the school buildings themselves.
Many districts in my state are offering options to parents, typically in the form of full online, hybrid (some online, some in person), and full in person classes. And I am all for this! We need to get kids back into some sense of normal and some students need to have in person instruction. Not all students can be successful with a one size fits all online instruction model. If emergency online teaching taught us one thing, not every kid/parent/teacher can do fully online instruction. Schools are more than places of learning and much more than daycare, they are a hybrid of functions that serves as a haven for students, families, and educators. For our economy to get back to growing, some families need to have a place for their students to go during the day, schools are that. When we do open our buildings it needs to be done with the safety of EVERYONE (students, educators, staff, admin) in mind. We need to have well documented plans in place, that everyone is aware of, and everyone knows what needs to be done.
Now with that said, I am ashamed of Arizona and the education community because yet again we have placed the decision making back in the hands of the local school districts. My home zip code 85015 has 5 different elementary school districts, 2 high school districts, and dozens of charters. All of them will be doing something different in the fall. How can a parent/educator/students know what is going on when families could have 2 to 3 differing plans? What should happen is one unified plan that is used by all school districts in the county and/or state so that there is consistency to make it easier for ALL stakeholders.
Education as a whole has been in need of a wake-up call for decades. No reform, no curriculum, no program has truly improved education for all. Now is the time, we have the means and the time to do this now, and what are we doing, trying to go back to the failures we had in the past.