This is the Coronavirus Schools Briefing, a guide to the seismic changes in American education that are occurring during the pandemic. Sign up here to receive this newsletter to your inbox.
It is almost impossible for kindergarten students and first graders to learn remotely without adult supervision. But school and work start and end at about the same time. It is difficult for parents to supervise distance learning and do their work at the same time, even if they are working from home.
For example, KIPP Newark, a network of free charter public schools in Newark, New Jersey, began offering an evening kindergarten and first grade class in mid-October. For working parents and children with high needs, the 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. window makes it all possible.
“As far as attendance goes, that has completely changed,” said Meredith Eger, the head teacher of the evening kindergarten class. “Some of the kids who joined us right away missed school all of September and most of October.”
For Ethan, an autistic kindergarten student, day school just wasn’t working. He missed 29 lessons when the school met during the day. Without both of his parents there, he struggled to wake up and stay focused, said his mother, Jessica Blair.
Now, they log in 10 minutes early and stream the class through speakers, so Ethan still hears the class even if he wanders. The 5-year-old likes to sit on his father’s lap to learn, she says.
“If it was just me I don’t think I could and Ethan probably wouldn’t,” Blair said. “But with her dad there, it helps a lot.”
KIPP organizes remote meetings during the day. But 24 kids have signed up for the nighttime experience, Eger said, and interest continues to grow.
“Compared to my day, I see parents sitting right next to them,” said Lily Ventrell, the first-grade and kindergarten learning specialist. “It makes things so much easier for them, compared to the day. Even if a parent works from home, it is so difficult.
Reversing the calendar, Ventrell says, made everything easier. “There is not much we can do on our side,” she said. “We need our families. We can’t go and hug the kids or grab a pencil. “
The school bus drivers once took the children to school. Now they are offering an online school for children.
Regular readers of this newsletter know that the digital divides have widened considerably this year. School districts scrambled to get their students’ tablets, and many families did not have Internet access. Some students have left homework in the parking lots. Some did not connect at all.
In Jackson, Mississippi, where more than 70% of children are entitled to a free and discounted lunch, 50 school buses are now serving as mobile hotspots. Buses, equipped with Wi-Fi antennas, have helped around a fifth of the neighborhood’s 5,000 schoolchildren this semester. The project cost the district $ 65,000.
At 8 a.m., drivers park their yellow armada in parks, apartment complexes, a homeless shelter and a recreation center. The Wi-Fi reaches approximately 100 meters.
The Times interactive story, reported by Kathleen Gray with photographs of Erin Kirkland, contains beautiful images and stories of Jackson’s families and teachers. To read it in full, click here.
Since March, public school students have been learning remotely in Chicago, the third largest district in the United States. There has been a messy political struggle over when and how schools might reopen – and it could be even more complicated.
The Chicago Teachers Union pushed back on district efforts to reopen classrooms, citing concerns about testing and tracing, health and safety protocols, vaccines, and questions about what settings the district will use to reopen classrooms. schools.
The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board on Thursday rejected the union’s request for a preliminary injunction that could have made it difficult to return to school next year. Undeterred, the union is considering a hearing, which could worsen the struggle.
Right now, staff are expected to return to classrooms on January 4. Students will begin a gradual return to in-person learning on January 11.
“We’re obviously delighted with the decision,” Janice Jackson, district executive director, told Amelia.
In a recent survey, only about a third of Chicago families said they would return for an in-person learning. A majority of the district’s estimated 208,000 returning students are black and Latino, as are the majority of the more than 77,000 students who have chosen in-person learning. But white families have expressed a preference for in-person learning at higher rates.
For the district, this is proof that schools must reopen.
“As a school system, we primarily serve black and Latin American students,” Dr. Jackson said. “And when we look at the data and see who doesn’t attend school regularly or where the engagement levels are lower, they’re black and Latinx.”
For the union, which argues that teachers should not have to teach simultaneously in person and at a distance, the investigation shows that reopening schools would harm most students.
“If we take our teachers and put them in classrooms where they are going to have to supervise and take care of the third of the students who are there with them, what does that mean for the two thirds of the students?” to which they cannot devote their full attention? Jesse Sharkey, the union president, told Amelia. “This means that two-thirds of students will receive a poorer education.”
A similar fight is brewing in California, where most public school students are still learning at home. Two teachers’ unions are opposing legislation that could force schools to reopen in March.
The entire men’s basketball team at the University of Houston has tested positive for the coronavirus this year.
Judson College, a Christian women’s college in Alabama, may not reopen for the spring semester after the pandemic exacerbated financial difficulties. If the college does not receive $ 500,000 in donations by Dec. 31, the president said, the college will not open in the spring and “all students will be advised of transfer options to complete their degrees.”
The football team at University of California, Los Angeles will not play in a bowl game, one of the many teams to make such a decision.
By early December, requests for federal financial aid for the university had fallen about 14 percent from the same period last year.
An opinion: “There is no ethical way for Penn State to resume in-person classes next semester, unless the coronavirus vaccine is available to all students and required,” wrote Grace Miller, editor of the Daily Collegian, the student newspaper at Pennsylvania State University. The state of Pennsylvania also urged colleges to delay a return to campus next semester.
Supreme Court refused to exempt religious schools Kentucky a statewide shutdown of in-person learning.
Instead of failing students this semester, Los Angeles will give them a second chance to succeed in their courses.
the Idaho Board of Education voted to lift the college entrance exam requirement for high school graduates this year.
A Good Read: Maybor Bill de Blasio Said New York City will revise its controversial process for some of its selective college and high school admissions. “It took a pandemic for de Blasio to act in favor of school integration”, tweeted our colleague Eliza Shapiro.
A good watch: The Times housed in a school in the Bronx for 33 days, chronicling its efforts to reopen during the pandemic. Go watch, please. You will not regret it.
A note from us
As the finals approach and the schools break, we will too. We’ll be back to your inbox in the New Year. For now, we just wanted to thank you for reading our work and offering your suggestions and thoughts. Hoping for an easier semester ahead.
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