Topic: Dealing with COVID-19 in our schools
Most people can imagine some of the challenges businesses, organizations, and just the ordinary family have in dealing with the issues that the COVID-19 pandemic presents. The challenges are staggering. In our schools, it is no different.
This was likely the first time since the wars in the last century that schools opened with trepidation and anxiety instead of excitement. Millions of children began school virtually on the first day and would have rather been seeing their friends and meeting new ones in school. Parents were scrambling to find childcare so their child could learn virtually while the parents had to go to work.
School districts were working and planning for reopening schools in some form or fashion. Many schools have started with online education. For years, many districts tried to convince school boards to invest in a technology device for each learner, but the expense was more than was believed to be affordable. This year forced the issue. However, that presented many problems. Federal money was provided that did help districts move forward. A large amount of districts had no cyber option for students, and had to work to provide one. If they didn’t, taxpayer money was going to the for-profit cyber schools, because families would choose that instead of a public school.
A number of school systems opened with a split schedule and a virtual option. If Pennsylvania schools opened their doors for students to return face to face, they were required to offer a virtual option for families that did not feel safe sending their children back to school. The split schedule offers a face-to-face option for students at about half the normal time or less. The purpose was to have less students in a classroom and keep them socially distanced.
Pennsylvania has had numerous school districts return completely to school face-to-face. In addition, they offered a cyber-option as required by the state.
Some districts offered more choices such as face-to-face, cyber school online program, and hybrid-type learning. The Waynesboro Area School District offered such options. The hybrid is an online option in which the teacher is videoed while teaching a class to face-to-face students. That requires recording, editing, uploading, downloading, the teacher connecting with the learner, and a lot more responsibilities. The other challenges are balancing the classroom of face-to-face students and the hybrid students. Dealing with more students opting to leave face-to-face for the hybrid and those wanting to return from cyber or hybrid to the face-to-face classroom has presented difficult problems that the schools have been trying to solve. Nevertheless, the options are a good thing, but extremely tough to manage.