As many schools are starting to opt for online learning, here are some tips for minimizing distractions at home.
And in some cases, school officials blame the change in their plans on families in their communities, where graduation and late summer parties have resulted in spikes in positive COVID-19 cases.
This is what happened in the Carle Place school district in Long Island, New York, where Superintendent Christine A. Finn announced that the school would begin with distance learning last Wednesday rather than in person.
“We have no choice but to put the safety of our staff and students first,” he said in a letter linking many of the new positive COVID-19 cases in the community to attending parties where some positive outcomes had close contact. with students.
“Since we’re learning the hard way, the actions of the few can impact the many,” he said.
Diana Mejia, left, and Anna Sofiya Iskra, both aged 8, join their mothers, Olga Mejia, second right, and Olena Iskra, far right, in a rally on August 23 after the school district of Mequon-Thiensville in Wisconsin decided to keep schools closed in the fall. (Photo: Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Carle Place is not alone. Suburban school districts in Milwaukee and Georgia have also seen an increase in COVID-19 cases among students, causing some to cancel or delay opening plans with some students in class.
Holidays are just one of the reasons for the shift, with everything from staff shortages to wider outbreaks in the community forcing some districts to move to a completely remote beginning.
According to Burbio, a company that aggregates more than 80,000 school calendars nationwide, more than 60 percent of public school districts are scheduled to start the year online only. It has risen since the beginning of August, when 52% of those districts were planning a remote start, the company said.
A USA TODAY analysis of the 15 largest suburban districts also found that nine of those school districts planned to reopen remotely, with some reversing their plans until July or early August. Some of them plan to gradually reopen their buildings throughout September and October.
Decisions attract parental complaints
The changes have drawn the ire of parents in bedroom communities, many of them white-collar and not afraid to voice their criticisms of their districts’ inability to get children back to school buildings.
District leaders have scrambled to find staff as hundreds of teachers have applied to work from home, quit, or took leave. In some cases, the protective equipment arrived slowly and the preparation of the buildings took longer than expected.
New Jersey has seen a number of suburban districts switch to virtual departures at the last minute.
Avoid a potential teacher strike, New York delays school, but remains on track to reopen buildings
About 100 parents from the Bernards Township school district in upscale Basking Ridge, a New York City suburb, protested the delay in in-person education about a week before the district started all students with virtual learning on the 3rd. September.
Bernards will not open classrooms and will switch to a hybrid school model until at least October 1 because he needs time to meet state guidelines to teach in person. This includes determining the personnel and safety of the facility and obtaining protective equipment for teachers, according to the district’s reopening plan.
New Jersey’s Freehold Regional High School District had to switch to an online startup on Thursday, with the switch to hybrid after 250 staff members showed up to work from home or applied for leave. The district reversed its plans for an in-person launch about two weeks before school started.
Big deal: Other nearby suburban neighborhoods had also virtually transitioned to a virtual start, leaving Freehold teachers in a chasm if they were going to teach in person, Freehold spokesperson Rebecca Policastro said.
“Once our state allowed the districts to be remote, it created a statewide domino effect and unexpected childcare problems,” he said.
Many parents were upset that the district had to abandon its plans for a hybrid start, with children in class on some days and home learning on the others, district officials said.
The Wyckoff School District in New Jersey told parents it needed to delay its in-person class schedule until the protective clothing and new desks it had ordered in early September arrived.
Chaos and calm: In-person learning schools juggle schedules and logistics
On Tuesday, teachers, parents and children march into the Brooklyn borough of New York to protest the reopening of the city’s public schools amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the threat of a teachers’ strike. (Photo: Mark Lennihan, AP)
Difficult demands for education officials
It was difficult for board members and superintendents to balance the safety of students and teachers with the benefits of having them back at school, said Charlie Wilson, president of the national group representing school boards.
“Many factors are beyond our control,” he said.
This includes the often conflicting advice from local health departments.
For example, Wilson is a board member of Worthington Schools, north of Columbus, Ohio. His district and Columbus schools report to a health department, but other schools in the same county report to a different health department. One department recommended that it be safe for schools to hold sports; the other says it’s not safe, Wilson said.
“We thought we could take a cue from our local health department, and that would provide stability,” he said. “But the Department of Public Health changes its recommendations, often when there has been no change in trends for positive (COVID-19) tests.”
Here’s how parents can protect their own children from the coronavirus at the reopening of schools
Worthington’s school board previously voted to go all distance for the first nine weeks of school, starting August 31, due to the increase in COVID-19 cases. Then the district received a huge pushback from parents who wanted to return to work, Wilson said. The board recently voted to remain remote for a shorter period, until September 28, when it will switch to a hybrid teaching format.
“Not everyone was happy with this compromise,” he added.
Without the masks and vaccine, we could achieve herd immunity from COVID-19, but deaths would be skyrocketing. We analyze the science.
Outside Milwaukee, the upscale Mequon-Thiensville school district changed its early school schedules at least three times this summer.
First he planned the learning in person, then the district asked the parents to declare if they wanted their child to learn in person or remotely, and finally announced that it would begin practically on September 1st.
‘So much for honor’: Despite the COVID cases, college students celebrated Labor Day weekend
To blame: the spike in infections in the suburb, attributable to a series of large graduation parties in the community during the summer.
Mequon-Thiensville Superintendent Matthew Joynt encouraged families to take responsibility for helping slow the spread of the virus so schools could reopen.
The local health department had recommended that postal codes contain fewer than 350 cases per 100,000 people on average for a two-week period before classrooms opened.
Once the infection rate decreased, Mequon-Thiensville went back to starting in person for those who wanted it on September 8. About 75 percent of students plan to come to school in person each day, while the other 25 percent learn from home, according to the district.
Read or share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2020/09/13/covid-cases-schools-back-to-school-fall-semester/5694385002/