So Many Questions

Our local elementary school, the ones my kids went to for a few years, has been retweeting other nearby elementary schools as they share the numbers of students whose families are opting for in-school or online instruction. The choice, as we’re seeing it right now, is either two days of in-school instruction with other days of online work supporting that OR fully online school.

So far, the results I’m seeing in our area look like about 4 times as many families opting to send their elementary kids to school two days per week versus the full time online option.

I have lots of questions, of course. (I should also note, our own two children, heading into 12th and 8th grades, have opted for in-school instruction and I have said I want to return to school. We’ll see how that goes, but that’s where we are, as a family, right now.)

  • Do these families (including my own) truly think this will be safe (as much as that is possible right now) for everyone involved?
  • Do these families believe the in-school instruction will be more meaningful than the online version?
  • Do these families need childcare? The numbers I’m seeing so far are all from elementary schools.
  • Do these families believe it is important for their children to be around their peers and this is, possibly in their minds, the safest way to make that happen?
  • Clearly lots of folks haven’t responded with their choices yet. Is that because they are hoping for more information? Or because they can’t decide? Or because they aren’t seeing the request for this choice from the district?
  • Is this typical across our district? These schools are mostly middle and upper-class white families and that is not true for many parts of our district.
  • Do these families have any kind of plan in their minds for what will happen if (when) we have to move to fully online for everyone again?

I’ve said before and I’ll keep saying, there is no good answer. Our federal government is doing little to nothing to improve that. State and district governments vary widely, I have no doubt. At the moment, I’ll continue sitting with my questions and waiting to see what I learn next.

I know that if I do get to return to room 208, it won’t be anything like this. That breaks my heart a little. I remain hopeful that someday we will get to return to this. For now, I’m preparing as best I can to teach and care for kids in whatever way is available.

5 replies on “So Many Questions”

  1. Abby says:

    This was a really tough choice for us, but our rising 4th grader found it hard to do one hour of sync learning, and we’d probably have to buy her a whole new computer to do 4 hours a day of sync online learning (she used my iPad in the spring but it’s incredibly difficult to actually do Google Classroom work on a tablet). I assume this problem would be magnified in many homes where there’s a shared computer amongst many kids, or a tablet is the only option. It was so frustrating for us and we are incredibly privileged. Do I think that in-person instruction, socially distanced, will be better? Honestly I have no idea. It seems like it will be pretty terrible, but it buys us three days of async work rather than having to do more web meetings. (FWIW her class is split, about 2/3 opting for in-person at the moment.)
    I know that the teachers are caught in an impossible situation. Not knowing how to plan, how many students you’ll have, what you’ll have to do…I’ve spent literally the entire summer planning for approximately 45 college class sessions. I can’t imagine trying to plan in-person and async materials at the same time, or not knowing whether you should be prepping online lessons because you’re one of the online teachers.
    All that to say…this sucks. All of it. I think FCPS mangled things in the spring and as a result has lost the trust of many who might otherwise have been willing to sign up for full-time online (including us, to be honest). I also think there’s a very good chance we’ll end up back fully online one way or another, so maybe we made the wrong choice. I don’t know.

  2. Abby says:

    I should also add that the science on safety is so incredibly mixed that it almost feels like a non-factor at this point. But I do know that my own child’s mental health takes a serious hit after online meetings and I’m not sure any of us want to deal with that for a whole year. 🙂 The precautions we’ve taken to protect her and her teacher and classmates is predominantly to continue our own near-lockdown and teach our own college courses online, where (I believe) the risk is exponentially greater. So at least we’re trying not to be the disease vectors.

  3. Tara says:

    We surveyed families and received responses for about 33% of our students. Not bad for a survey, but also “low” when you consider that we did ask about childcare needs and whether or not the student could get to school if the district did not provide transportation. Most families indicated that some in-person school was preferable to none…but we have heard from many who do not want their children exposed to the virus, no matter what. Our Kindergarten enrollment is a tiny fraction of the usual.

    Personally, I do not believe that it is safe to reopen schools in most places. To be sure, I am not a public health expert. But I can see that the virus is out of control (or on the edge of being so) in many areas and we are expecting people to exercise personal responsibility in order to respond to a systemic problem. Places that have reopened their childcare options and summer schools are seeing staff get sick and die or having to significantly scale back their plans. I do not see how public schools will be any different, especially as evidence mounts that the virus is airborne and school HVAC systems are pretty poor, in general.

    I wish I had a good answer. I don’t. But I can’t see how we justify risking children to perhaps a lifetime of chronic issues (if they’re lucky) by putting butts in classroom seats.

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