The question is if — not when — schools will welcome back students. And the question also is how teachers and administrators are preparing. This will be especially important for East End schools that have an increase in students as parents decide to relocate away from urban Covid-19 hot spots or those whose work can be done from here instead of, say, a Manhattan office.
Although remote learning has had mixed success, some parents seem satisfied for the most part with how the year with remote learning went. Others have said it was a waste of time, with students and even teachers appearing to check out. Research already has demonstrated a sharp drop in student progress after schools closed in March. Proficiency results for students using one online math program decreased by about half, for example. Reading skills also took a hit. A study completed in May by the Annenberg Center at Brown University estimated that reading will be shown to lag significantly when classes resume, though not by quite as much as math. This will require schools and educators to support students who are academically behind and provide individualized instruction as needed.
Teaching is difficult enough as it is. The added responsibilities ahead will tax everyone involved, especially students as they struggle to catch up. This may be made vastly more challenging if the school year starts the way it ended, remotely.
For elected school boards, summer is no time to sit back. Rather than maintain the often-chummy relationships with administrators, board members will have to step up to closely monitor preparations and progress. There is no way to avoid the conclusion that one way or the other, school will be much harder for all involved when it resumes, whether in person or online.
Parents will have a primary role, keeping an eye both on their children’s work and attention span, as well as teachers’ commitment to the extra effort required.