Is it safe for students to return back to school? President Donald Trump is encouraging schools to make in-person classes available this fall saying, “I would like to see schools open- open 100 percent. And we’ll do it safely; we’ll do it carefully.”
A recent poll conducted by Ipsos a Global Market Research Company shows that parents disagree with Trump’s push to fully reopen schools. An overwhelming 63 percent of parents disapprove with how the Trump administration is handling this issue while 34 percent approve.
The economic recovery has slowed down from the continued spread of COVID-19 and lack of resources to safely send students back to school while keeping the teachers safe. Unless there is a comprehensive plan with a solution to this issue, we’re currently unprepared to move forward here in Miami Dade with any level of confidence in the safety of our students and teachers. A dialogue between business leaders, elected officials, teachers, parents and students must take place in order to come to a resolution that will work for everyone. I also believe this must be done at the local level by those stakeholders on the ground most familiar with their situation, a blanket solution will not work for every situation.
Parents are at a disadvantage when it comes to whether or not sending their children to school is a good idea with the current pandemic, yet how they can focus on work when the kids are at home requiring their attention or lack of the resources to have their children cared for while they go into work. Meanwhile, teachers struggle to adjust to online schooling and finding ways to keep their students engaged in learning. Certainly, these are difficult times.
Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent, Alberto Carvalho, in an interview on July 10th with CBS, said that he would not be reopening in August due to the high number of positive COVID-19 cases, high hospitalization rates, as well as an increase in deaths. Miami-Dade County Public Schools will start the school year remotely and late, on August 31st, school officials announced Wednesday July 29th. Carvalho clarified during the School Board’s public hearing that the district is having “ongoing conversations” based on surveys completed by teachers and will exercise “compassion and flexibility and understanding”.
Here are statements from teachers responding to this ongoing issue:
“Politicians, school boards, & principals will determine when & how schools will be open for service this year, but when they do, it will be up to the teachers to teach. Teach what? Will I go about my day via Zoom and YouTube to explore Poe and Orwell, thesis and poetic thoughts as I’ve done for decades? Or will teaching this year be more about the moment and circumstances we’re living than the past canon of study? I see, not quite clearly, but somehow, that this school year will be transformative, not in what we teach and learn, but in how it will mark a change in the way we as teachers reach our students to impart information that is so readily available to the world, yet needs an improved means to process, understand, and apply its lessons to a world that needs informed citizen in order to cure what plagues us.”
Without the physical interaction of students among their peers and teachers, it will be up to teachers to find innovative ways to bring the human interaction of a classroom into a screen of virtual communication. A large part of the task ahead is to provide not only the content of our lessons but the interpersonal interactions, the connection to others living this same moment through different circumstances, and an understanding of our place and purpose in the chaotic world today. We need to find ways to deliver the content of our curriculum with more relevant than ever.
“Logistically, we need to continue to stay distanced through this fall, therefore online education must be the vehicle for delivery of instruction. We need to make the online learning platform as dynamic as possible to compensate for the loss of social interaction. We need to adjust the content of our curriculum to teach not only information, but how we should interpret that information to inform the actions of our lives. Then, if the actions of the adults allow for us to return to schools… slowly… in stages, then maybe when we come back together, we might be healthier in both body and mind.”
English Teacher at
Jose Marti MAST 6-12 Academy
“As a parent and a teacher, I want nothing more than for all of us to be back at school. Face to face instruction and human emotion cannot be replaced by online video conferencing. Having said that, being safe and alive is the priority. There will be challenges to face in regard to virtual learning, but I’m confident in the ability of my colleagues to deliver the very best instruction. Once we transition back to school, everyone needs to be accepting of all the new rules in place, and most importantly, face masks and social distancing must be maintained. We need the cooperation of students, parents, and teachers to make this happen. Our world will never be the same, but with smart decision making, we can work together to achieve some level of normalcy.”
Media Specialist at
Jose Marti MAST 6-12 Academy
In closing it’s clear there are no easy answers to this dilemma and we need to find ways to address the varying and sometimes at odds needs of everyone involved. Our best chance for this is to get into a dialogue for this is where healthy ideological debate and solutions arise.