WHAT IT IS
- The COVID-19 pandemic forced schools across the country to close buildings early and switch to online learning. [NPR]
- Summer 2020: The U.S. is battling a surge of new cases and deaths from COVID-19, prompting health experts and educational leaders to question if open schools are safe. [BBC]
- Some of the largest K12 public school districts are starting the 2020-2021 school year remote like LA, San Diego, Miami-Dade, and Montgomery County.
- Colleges and universities are offering a variety of online and in-person classes. [Reuters]
CDC Guidelines for reopening schools:
The CDC published a 9-page document to help guide school administrators and educational leaders. Key takeaways are:
- Collaborate with state and local health officials,
- Do not open if COVID-19 cases are rising in the community,
- Virtual-only classes are the safest alternative for everyone.
Guidelines from the CDC are continually evolving. Get the most updated document and guidelines here.
WHY IT MATTERS
CIVICS: The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) is the national governing body over the public education system. [U.S. Department of Education] Each state, district, or county has its own department of education that oversees local policy and budget. The majority of decisions are made at the local level.
SOCIAL: According to a survey conducted by the University of Michigan, 2 in 3 families will send their children to school this fall; 12% of families said they would not send at least one of their kids to school; 21% were still uncertain about their decision. Most agreed that a surge in COVID-19 cases would make families reconsider sending children to school. [U.S. News and World Report]
Educators are worried about the "COVID slide", meaning an academic loss that many fear will negatively impact students for years.
Some experts estimate a learning loss of more than 50%, with students in elementary being a full year behind in math and/or reading. [Brookings Institute]
Other educators say they are still not prepared for online learning and need resources and support provided by the school. [The New York Times]
June 30, 2020: 2 in 3 parents are prepared to send their kid(s) to school this fall. [U.S. News and World Report]
Parents across the country have expressed near unmanageable stress around homeschooling on top of working from home. Some adults have lost their jobs due to new homeschooling demands. [The New York Times]
Department of Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, said “nothing in the data” suggests children being in school is “in any way dangerous.”*
*This statement has challenged by the CDC and public health experts. [The Los Angeles Times]
KEEP THEM CLOSED
"Without the proper plan, resources, and safety precautions will inevitably exacerbate the spread of the virus, jeopardize public health, and ultimately cause longer closures." [NPR]
Some teachers feel like "a pawn in a political game.” [USA Today]
Some teachers also remind others that school never closed, as instruction continued online.
With a surge of cases and deaths across the majority of the U.S., some parents are electing to keep their kids home for safety reasons. [MIT Technology Review]
The CDC recommends the safest option or "lowest risk" for teachers, students and parents is "virtual-only." [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]
Many local, state, and public health leaders believe it will be safe to open schools once there is a vaccine widely available. [National Geographic]
WHERE WE ARE NOW
- July 23, 2020: President Trump now suggests that "hot spots" should delay school reopening for health and safety reasons. [NPR]
- July 20, 2020: Florida Education Association sued the state government, saying the emergency declaration to open schools violates the Florida Constitution requiring schools to be operated safely. [NPR]
- July 19, 2020: Teachers and Texas and Arizona have begun protesting the decision to reopen schools. [EdWeek]
- July 14, 2020: AZ summer school teacher, who conducted in-person learning with two other educators, died from COVID-19. [AZ Central]
- July 12, 2020: Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said, “If schools aren’t going to open they shouldn’t get the funds.” [The Los Angeles Times]
- July 6, 2020: President Trump said “SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!” [Reuters]
- May 13, 2020: A 63-page CDC reopening guideline was uncovered by the Associated Press, whose reporters discovered that the White House rejected because President Trump believed it to be “very tough and expensive.” [Associated Press]
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
- According to the CDC director, the pandemic would be "under control" in four to eight weeks if everyone wore a mask. [The Washington Post]
- See a state-by-state breakdown of school safety guidelines here.
- Is education an essential service? Should teachers and staff be given PPE?
- How can we rethink what school is? Is school a physical building or simply a "place" to learn?
- The U.S. is not the only developed country battling this question. Read a BBC article on how England is handling the crisis.
- Will teachers and staff go on strike? What does it mean to go on strike? Learn more about unions and strikes here.
- Read Joe Biden's plan for opening schools during the pandemic.