Learning from the Shutdown

No reasonable person can blame public school teachers and/or officials for not being ready for the COVID-19 shutdown. For years, in a much different context, many of them have been recommending two steps that, had they been implemented fully, would have helped students and teachers deal with the extended break from We refer to ensuring every student has some sort of computer and vastly increasing access to internet service, of course. Many children do not have computers at home and many do not have internet service there.

Removing those obstacles will take time and money. We already knew that. Educators’ experiences during the past month or so make the link between technology and pedagogy clearer than it may have been to some in the past, however. Both initiatives need to be viewed as high priorities.

Precisely. Parents are always critical to the education process, for obvious reasons. Their importance grows exponentially when students must learn from home, rather than in their classrooms.

A significant number of parents do not seem to have adopted the role of surrogate teachers, however. Throughout the state, teachers report some students are not completing the homework assignments they have been given. Hence, the need to connect with parents and attempt to persuade them to act as enforcers for schools.

Most school districts seem to have adopted a lenient attitude toward completion of assignments during the shutdown. They have little choice in the matter. No one saw this coming. No one was truly ready for it.

Lessons learned from the shutdown — about technology and how to cope with gaps in its availability, and about parental cooperation and failures in that respect — need to be put to use in preparing for the next epidemic. No one can say when, but there will be a next time.


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