Who benefits from online classes?

emptyschooldark

New York City entered and remained (and to some degree, still remains) in a strict lockdown earlier this year in an effort to “flatten the curve” of the huge COVID-19 outbreak there. Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo have already released plans for the reopening of schools in the fall, which include alternate-day schooling to minimize the number of students in the city’s already-overcrowded buildings. “Make no mistake,” the district website assures parents: “New York City students will still be learning 5 days a week.” Sure, they will.

But in the struggle to transition to online learning during the 2020 Spring Semester, when lockdowns were quickly put into place and schools shuttered for months on end, many students fell behind, making it necessary to attend virtual summer school, which, unsurprisingly enough, they are also failing. Rachel Forsyth, a director at Good Shepherd Services, a nonprofit helping such students attempt to succeed, said, ““For our students who have already been at the margins of education … education is not really happening.” I’d argue that’s the case for more than just those at the “margins of education.”

Many students blame their lack of achievement in summer school courses on their lack of rapport with teachers they’ve never met before. Teachers will say the same, also citing difficulties with communication and the provided curriculum. Technology issues have further complicated the situation.

The problem with stories like these are that they convince many families that the only way to get back to “real,” “effective” learning is to bring teachers and students back to the classroom. But when COVID-19 safety protocols mandate social distancing, mask wearing, contact tracing, and regular disinfections, one wonders how much time is left for learning, especially on top of the already-existing standardized testing, “character education” disguised as indoctrination, and other nonsensical intrusions into the day.

NYC students already behind in class struggling in virtual summer school

 

Student tests positive for COVID-19 on first day of school; school open for business by Monday

greenfieldcentraljh

A junior high in Indiana is under scrutiny as the family of one of its students sent their child to school on its first day of the Fall term even though the results of a COVID-19 screening were still pending.

The student indeed received a positive result sometime Thursday, and the health department notified Greenfield-Central Junior High in Greenfield, Indiana, which in turn notified students and faculty that afternoon in an email. As part of the district’s “Positive COVID-19 Test Protocol,” the school quickly isolated the student, and extra care was taken to disinfect rooms he or she may have been in. The student’s schedule was examined and everyone seated within 6 feet of the student is now required to quarantine for 14 days before returning to school. (Because you know children always sit still in exactly the place they were assigned – I’m sure the rest of the class is fine.)

When interviewed Thursday evening, Harold Olin, superintendent of Greenfield-Central Schools, said, “Tomorrow we will carry on. Obviously we will have fewer students with us, but we’ll continue with what we’re doing.”  Students did return to school Friday, and all systems were a go by Monday morning, when all but the aforementioned students returned to their regularly scheduled classes. 

Greenfield-Central Junior High is located in Greenfield, Indiana, about 30 minutes east of Indianapolis. It serves about 750 students in grades 7 and 8. It has an impressive rating on Greatschools.com overall, citing average or above-average standardized test scores. Approximately 95% of the student body is white.

The school’s website makes no mention of the exposure.

Students at Indiana school back on campus after classmate sent home with positive Covid-19 test

Indiana student tests positive for Covid-19 on first day of school

Greenfield Central Junior High student tests positive for COVID-19

Greenfield-Central student tests positive for COVID-19 on first day back to school

GC Junior High

Greenfield-Central Junior High – GreatSchools