I’ve been thinking long and hard about opening up the schools this September and since I was married to a teacher for more than 35 years, I believe I have a bit more insight into the job than most.
First point is the US economy cannot reach its full potential with schools being closed. There is not enough child-care facilities to accommodate all school-age children.
Secondly, children and teens need the socialization that schools provide in order to progress as members of society. Don’t punish or retard their development over the Covid-19 pandemic.
To put it simply teachers did not sign up to be front-line responders. They are not nurses, doctors, police nor fire personal. So we need to offer them protection. The same protection that was offered to essential workers at grocery stores and drug stores and other heroes who worked during the beginning of the pandemic when deaths were soaring.
Teachers are also not tech mavens or YouTube stars. They have trouble teaching remotely just as anyone else would given a week to figure out how Zoom works. You cannot underestimate the fact that face-to-face interactions between a teacher and student are paramount to education.
School districts should be working toward providing older teachers with options of remote teaching but with the kids in the classroom. Perhaps a younger substitute paraprofessional is in the classroom.
Unlike the present lock down in New York, only the more vulnerable teachers should be taken care of, while the rest try to get back to normal.
I for one, advocated opening the schools two months ago and have classes outside under tents until October, but no one in Albany could “re-imagine” that.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is holding the state hostage by telling school districts and residents he will announce in early August whether the schools will open. I will wager a bet with anyone that he does not open them across the board.
September is thisclose to Election Day and if all goes well for New York school openings it would be a feather in President Trump’s cap, which cannot be allowed by the Democrats.
If there is a lesson to be learned from Covid-19, it’s this: Take care of the vulnerable, but let those not at risk thrive. I don’t wish to see anyone die, but the harm to the economy and to children’s development has consquences as well.
Let’s not take Alice Cooper’s advice. School can’t be out forever.