COVID-19: Difficulties Related to the Opening of Schools
“The worst is that the teachers might not always see your hand when you’re raising it. I really miss my friends and play dates. My mommy, and sometimes my daddy, have to help because it’s too hard sometimes”
There’s no question that most children would rather be in school. “Kids are getting more bored by the day,” writes 11-year-old Harry Dodd in the New York Times. “We wish we could go back to school to see our friends.”
However with most schools closed due to the pandemic—including Boston Public Schools which closed its doors just last week—the alternative is online schooling, which comes with a whole host of challenges for children, parents and teachers alike.
According to a new report from Common Sense Media, almost 16 million children and more than 400,000 teachers lack adequate internet or computer access. Fortunately some childcare programs offer access to internet that can link children to their classrooms, helping to bridge the digital divide facing many American families. In many cases children are grouped into “learning pods” which can represent yet another set of challenges for families; as the Boston Globe warns many learning pods “help the kids with the most resources, leaving the neediest kids further behind.”
Public schools may also face a lack of funding for the protective equipment needed for staff, for electric filters to keep air clean in old buildings, to purchase cleaning materials for schools and to pay staff to clean premises frequently and regularly. And many classrooms are also not large enough for children’s desks to be spaced 6- to 10-feet apart so as to control the spread of the disease.
These challenges have led to a number of schools opening and closing again as outbreaks occur in which staff and/or children have become infected.
While the landscape may look grim, there are a number of ways that we can continue to support students, parents and teachers during these difficult times. Below is a list of resources and further reading to help keep kids learning.
Donors Choose: Fund a local teacher’s project. At school or at home, wherever learning happens, you can make a difference. With teachers and students facing the toughest learning challenges in a generation, you can help provide the supplies to keep kids learning.
Adopt a Classroom: AdoptAClassroom.org advances equity in education by giving teachers and schools access to the resources they need. A student’s potential shouldn’t be limited by budgets; any support can open opportunities for long-term success.
Support Public Libraries: Since suspending in-person services, the Boston Public Library has loaned more than 1.4 million online items and put more than 11,000 new physical books in the hands of readers. Consider supporting your local library, like the Boston Public Library, through an online donation.
1. Back to School Like Never Before by Randi Weingarten – President, American Federation of Teachers