I was talking with an ESL teacher earlier in the week. By all accounts, she is an extraordinarily devoted teacher, so I really appreciated her insights.
As we chatted, she wondered how her students were faring with the lack of school. She said this situation was permanently changing us. She said she couldn’t imagine how we would ever go back.
As Donald Trump and the governors talk about opening up businesses and society again, I talk to teachers and observe board of ed meetings every day, and I’m hearing a completely different story. Schools aren’t anticipating going back to normal months from now. They have no idea how they will be able to open schools safety in September — five months from now.
They are talking through various plans, like social distancing students in the classroom, which would mean that they would need double the amount of classroom space. Maybe only half the students will attend school at the same time. Since teachers couldn’t simultaneously teach regular school and Zoom classes, that would probably mean that students would only be educated part time.
They have no idea how they’ll educate students who have regressed by a full year. They have no idea how they’ll provide special education services. They have no idea how they’ll keep older teachers safe.
Individual schools sit around waiting for some guidance from the state about how they are supposed to be managing the situation RIGHT NOW, and they aren’t getting any help. Everybody is out on their own. A few schools are making things work, but most aren’t.
Schools have been duct taped together this spring, but things are slowly falling apart.
Most parents have given their schools a pass so far. Their biggest concerns have been matters like the prom and graduation, but the rumbles of discontent, particularly among parents with younger kids, are growing louder.
I have no idea where we are going. Will an edTech company, like the Khan Academy, step into the void? Will parents revolt? Will there be a mass exit of the most educated parents? What is going to be the long term impact on the most vulnerable students? Will teachers strike if they are forced back into schools this fall?
As scientists warn that we are only in the second inning in dealing with the pandemic, we are also only in the second inning in rebuilding various government functions, like public education, public college, and transportation. Private businesses can just open their doors, but until the schools are back in order, they won’t have any workers or customers.
23 thoughts on “Can We Ever Go Back? (Plague, Day 63, May 7, April 2020)”
Will parents revolt? Will there be a mass exit of the most educated parents? What is going to be the long term impact on the most vulnerable students?
This is my prediction, unfortunately. I think there’s enough academic-performance-inertia present in my family that our two youngest, the only two still in K-12, will likely feel obliged to trudge on through whatever half-assed online thing our school district is obliged to come up with…for a while, anyway. But if we get to half-way through the school year, with 2021 dawning, and no return to normalcy in sight, and academics operating at the level they have been for the past month and a half, I think even my wife and I will find some alternative for our girls…and we wouldn’t be the last.
Personally, I’m hoping the “essential” workers who aren’t being well paid rebel before the parents do (not that there isn’t a huge overlap between the groups).
MH said, “Personally, I’m hoping the “essential” workers who aren’t being well paid rebel before the parents do (not that there isn’t a huge overlap between the groups).”
A number of major retail employers have been topping up salaries by $2 an hour. Presumably, that’s what they need to do to keep people coming to work.
“H-E-B is also taking extra steps to support its partners at its warehouse facilities. The H-E-B culinary team will provide daily lunches to warehouse partners serving an estimated 50,000 chef-prepared meals each week.”
“Similarly to H-E-B, the retail giant Walmart provide its associates in Texas with paycheck bonuses adding up to $18.87 million statewide. This is part of the $180 million in paycheck bonuses given to Walmart associated nationwide Thursday. In total Walmart has committed around $550 million in bonus payout to its workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
It’s relatively easy for Amazon, Walmart and HEB to bump their hourly pay up if income is up, but presumably there are a lot more issues for non-profit and government employers of essential workers in terms of budget constraints. Hospitals have really been hurting lately, and of course state and local taxes collections are down. There have been cases of nursing home workers walking out. In fact, I was just googling, and nursing homes have been one of the biggest areas of COVID labor unrest. And naturally so–it’s both super dangerous, super low paid, and they’ve been low priority for PPE.
Given that so many fatalities have involved nursing homes (both in the US and Europe), that probably should be a priority in terms of improving safety conditions. And hey, how about not forcing nursing homes to take released COVID hospital cases?
Related: somebody should tell the police that grabbing a social distancing violator is kind of dangerous.
Laura said, “As Donald Trump and the governors talk about opening up businesses and society again”
The governors aren’t just talking about it–they’re doing it.
CA is starting with curbside pickup.
“The announcement came as three counties in Northern California have started to defy the statewide stay-at-home order and reopen businesses. The state also just agreed to reopen Laguna Beach and San Clemente beaches days after Newsom ordered the closure of Orange County’s coast.”
“On Monday, California reported a 1.9% decline in its COVID-19 hospitalization rate and 39 new deaths—an improvement to the number of fatal cases that in past weeks reached the triple digits.
The losses nonetheless serve as a tragic reminder of the pandemic’s toll on many California families, the governor said. The coronavirus has killed more than 2,200 people in the state.”
We are in Phase 1 of our reopening, which includes curbside retail, fishing, golf, hunting, state parks, county parks, landscaping, floraculture, car washes, pet walking, car sales, some construction. . . .
[next is gather with <5 people, retail, hair & nail, and nannies & housecleaners, in Phase 2].
The pets have had to hold it in this long?
🙂 Our pets are very special.
(I think the guideline means professional dog walkers, but am also amused that that is an explicit category)
I think people are really bad at prediction, both when they predict catastrophe, the world changing forever, and when they describe v shaped curves of recovery and everything springing back to normal.
I think things could change a lot. I’ve mentioned New Orleans, where I hear that the school system changed (from something that was probably not working to begin with).
Our public school district has finally rolled out laptops to all the students (it was on the plan anyway, but remote schooling has accelerated it). So, they are at least setting up for starting the school year without in school school. This will work for kids like mine (and his friends) though they won’t like it.
I am not hooked into how special education services will be provided, but I think there are plans to try to get students with significant support needs back into the classroom and to get teachers into the group homes where some children are supposed to be served.
I think some private schools are going to be seriously questioned about their costs if there is no physical school (and, the schools cannot afford to lower tuition in any substantial way — teachers cost just as much if they are working from home, unless you get a different set of teaches). Schools with significant endowments might be able to eat costs for a while, but that’s a small minority of schools.
I’m eager to see what happens in Quebec, although I really worry that they are reopening too early. But Quebec has a creche culture – they’ve had $5/day (now $7/day) daycare for at least a generation now (you did not read that dollar figure wrong) – so culturally I kind of get why they are going first.
I’ll probably be out of work longer than the schools are closed, so I’m trying to get my mind around homeschooling. I think I can engage my younger son better. I’d have to put some money into private solutions for my older son in a few courses but my family and I could cover the liberal arts and math to a point.
I am coming to believe as a matter of opinion only that almost everyone will eventually get to test/trace/isolate + masks and social distancing as a solution and when that is solidly in place, schools will be at an acceptable level of risk. I do worry that in North America and especially in the US, the test/trace component will only arrive after worse conditions evolve first. But if you are tracking and testing, and you are quarantining not just people with COVID-19 but their contacts, I think you can close schools only very locally, like individual schools, where/when you have to and keep them open in general…once you’ve got very few community transmissions. Slow and steady.
Jenn said, ” But if you are tracking and testing, and you are quarantining not just people with COVID-19 but their contacts”
That last part is essential but is going to be a doozy to get people to agree to.
If telling people to wear a mask in stores has already resulted in murder and threats of violence, how is mandatory quarantine going to go over?
I’m thinking about what it means to “go back to normal” and, I think, that trends that were already in place (retai and smallish expensive liberal arts colleges failing) will accelerate.
I don’t think I know the details of preexisting trends in K-12 education. For example, were we moving towards online learning? I’m not seeing it, mostly. I have seen the development of a small private high school school with no extracurriculars, with lower tuition than traditional private schools (and higher pay for teachers who also take on significant administrative responsibilities).
I don’t know what will happen with communal activities and communal spaces (restaurants, Disneyland, theater, ballet). Maybe consolidation? I do know that though I am a significant introvert who would have days where i did not leave the house at all, I am feeling a significant urge/nostalgia to gather in spaces where there are other people about (a restaurant with my family, coffee shop with friends) in ways that I wouldn’t have thought I would significantly yearn.
“For example, were we moving towards online learning? I’m not seeing it, mostly. I have seen the development of a small private high school school with no extracurriculars, with lower tuition than traditional private schools (and higher pay for teachers who also take on significant administrative responsibilities).”
Yeah. Our kids’ school was very anti-online, anti-tech, especially for elementary school.
And, then, there are the huge structural changes. World War II realigned the world. Will anything like that happen now? I’ve said that I’m seeing the ending of the American century (or 3/4 century?) for a while now. I can see that trend accelerating, potentially with other countries (China?) gaining economic and world power. But, we could also see greater insularity, another existing trend.
I do think that the world is not looking at American as a model at this instance, and, 20-30 years ago, I would have said that we were the gold standard for science and discovery.
Total anecdote but I just listened into my son’s Zoom math class and at the end the teacher went through the list of people missing to be sure she’d gotten everyone. 7 girls missing, 1 boy. Made me wonder if the girls are providing childcare at the expense of school.
We’ve had newspaper reports here in NZ of teens who are not participating in remote education because they’re working (often minimum wage jobs – like stacking supermarket shelves or produce packhouses).
Because we started our lockdown with a fortnight school holidays (govt brought the holidays forward by 2 weeks), the kids had been available to work – and didn’t stop when school started up again. Reading between the lines, they were under significant pressure from employers who needed all hands on deck (and particularly young, healthy workers, in the least affected risk categories).
They are still enrolled in school – just not participating.
Their teachers are really concerned – as these kids have significant exams coming up in October/November (we have a different school year to you in the Northern Hemisphere), and they are already in the high-risk of educational failure category. The jobs they’re doing are highly seasonal and/or temporary – so this isn’t a valid career choice (in the way that a building or plumbing apprenticeship would be).
As we move out of lockdown, and look at schools re-opening (hopefully next week) – many teachers are predicting at least 2 months of missed learning to make up – for the most severely affected kids.
My son’s online classes would have 3/4 of the boys present at best (it’s been as low as 20%). And it’s the same names missing every time… Some kids are just not participating in online learning at all. Some are really struggling. Some are doing well (probably the kids who are educational self-starters and learn under any conditions).
For context, this is a single-sex Catholic middle/high-school with most parents in the top 20% income bracket. So you can imagine how much worse the engagement is in lower-income schools, with parents who are much less hands-on over their children’s education.
Today, the 1st grader and I just made our first outing to an indoor location in about 7 weeks. We were visiting a therapist for the first of several appointments for some academic testing.
The 1st grader Karen-ed the therapist for his violations of social distancing.
She also Karen-ed me when I took us through the Starbucks drive-thru afterward, as she was horrified by the fact that the barista and I were touching the SAME THINGS! (I paid cash and told the barista to keep the change.)
Man, kids are going to be messed up after this.
I should mention that although there were a lot of cars on the road and a fair number of staff in the building, we were probably the only clients that I saw there. They opened up to IRL patients on Monday (three days ago). Before that, they were doing only online apts.
I’m not going to be limiting the 1st grader’s therapy apts. at all this summer (barring an uncontrollable local epidemic). But I did have her wash her hands again and change clothes after we got home.
I had an upper school Zoom last night for parents from our private school. There were about 25 households represents, and it was largely social with some school business. Some notes:
–The extroverts (parents and kids) are bouncing off the walls right now. On the other hand, as somebody’s introverted kid said, “I could do this all day, every day.”
–One of the dads (parent of two teens) said, “I feel guilty I’m enjoying this so much.” His teens are taking turns cooking. Another family (suffering carb overload) has told their son, NO MORE BAKING. Yet another locked their kids out of the house for the Zoom.
–One of the administrators is currently hosting all (or nearly all) of her adult kids, a son’s wife, a son’s girlfriend and a dog.
–Somebody at school organized a social distancing scavenger hunt.
–Some masks with school logos and colors are in the works, as masks may be needed in the fall for reopening.
–They are trying to figure out the logistics of 25% school occupancy.
–The head of school stressed that the situation for the fall is very different from the spring, as they have all the time in the world to prepare for the fall, compared to one week in the spring.
–The school administrators are in touch with other school organizations and are processing vast amounts of information and ideas with regard to how to manage the fall.
–School plans to do more synchronous stuff in the fall if there’s a closure. They are planning for different contingencies.
–One of the dads (a college professor) was noting that there are two ways to handle synchronous online education: either a real-time lecture + discussion OR a recorded lecture + live discussion. He said that the latter is more effective, in view of internet issues. (Our country folk have a lot of internet problems.)
–Somebody (I forget who) said that a bunch of their college TAs are currently stuck overseas.
–The coach said that everything is on the table in terms of sports: flipping seasons (track in the fall, football in the spring?) and closing locker rooms to guest teams.
–For the low, low price of $500, school can arrange to have Google Classroom (our emergency online platform) integrated with RenWeb (our normal school communication platform). That’s a really good deal!
–The company that is handling our graduation stuff suddenly revived and sent school diplomas…printed with the old graduation date.
–More in a bit.
–We have a lot of medical/hospital families at school.
–One of the dads (a doctor) is now reunited with his family. (I’m guessing that the backstory is that he was in COVID-19 isolation during the local surge.)
–One of the moms mentioned the story of a Corpus Christi ER doctor who moved into his kids’ treehouse for three weeks while dealing with coronavirus cases.
–On the other hand, the non-COVID healthcare people have had a much slower pace of work and often much shorter work days.
–A doctor (?) mom was saying that it had been fairly easy to supervise her kids’ school work while there was so little to do at work, but that the volume of patients has recently ramped up at the clinic, so she’s finding it more difficult to keep the kids on task.
I got an email from our pediatric dentist yesterday. They are reopening. YAY! However, it’s only for urgent care right now, and the dental visit is going to be completely different.
“You’ll be asked the same screening questions again and everyone in the car will have their temperature verified when you arrive for your visit. You will be greeted at your vehicle and then brought into the office by a team member.”
“Please brush teeth and use restroom at home before arriving for appointments as much as possible.”
“We have hand sanitizer or soap and water that we will ask you to use immediately when you enter the office. Please refrain from touching objects in the office as much as possible.”
“You will see that our waiting room no longer offers seating, books, puzzles, magazines, or toys since those items are difficult to clean and disinfect. Our treatment rooms have reduced items to allow for thorough disinfection between patients.”
“We have reduced our team to allow for less physical interaction between people.”
“Appointments will be planned to allow for social distancing between patients. Only 2 families will be in the office at any one time. This means fewer options for scheduling your appointment.”
Re: opening schools with more social distancing through half-days: I (and I’m sure many other older baby boomers) attended school for half days in the 5th grade. Our school had become so overcrowded with baby boom kids that they had to do this, while the new school was being built. I dont’ remember losing ground, just that the 4-hour sessions were very well-organized. Maybe half days are not enough for at-risk children, but for those who could keep up, it was just more play time.
EB said, “Re: opening schools with more social distancing through half-days: I (and I’m sure many other older baby boomers) attended school for half days in the 5th grade. Our school had become so overcrowded with baby boom kids that they had to do this, while the new school was being built. I dont’ remember losing ground, just that the 4-hour sessions were very well-organized.”
When I taught in Russia in the Peace Corps in the 90s, at least some of the local schools operated two different daily sessions.
The Russian schools generally had shorter school days than in the US, especially in the early grades.
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