The last time I walked into Target, I knew something was different. Gone were the displays touting fun in the sun and red-white-and-blue. The pool toys were on clearance, and there was not a bathing suit to be found. It's the most wonderful time of year for an educator: back to school season.
But what does that mean this year? What does back to school mean in the era of COVID-19? Should you be factoring new masks and hand sanitizer into your school supply lists, or should you be getting ready for a new round of home schooling? We've taken the most common options that schools are exploring for next year and broken down what they might mean for your kid.
Virtual, In-Person, Hybrid, A-Day/B-Day, Option for In-Person or Virtual, etc... The options discussed have been all over the board, but why is there no consensus? Potential health risk to students, teachers, and the community, number of teachers on staff, quality of education, and cost all have a role in what administrators decide; however, the largest influence on the decisions made is you!
As superintendents attempt to create plans that best meet the needs of those in their respective communities, some, like Dr. Jim Lloyd of Olmsted Falls, have created surveys asking parents for their input. Unfortunately, this has only revealed that small, tight-knit communities are not immune to the heterogeneous opinions about COVID19. In a recent interview with Cleveland.com, Dr. Lloyd explained,
“You get people saying this is a hoax and nobody should have masks [...] Others say they think we can teach kindergarten kids to wear masks or they’re concerned about the cleaning products.”
So how will the wants and needs of school districts like Olmsted Falls be met? Dr. Lloyd stated later in the interview that Olmsted Falls will hold the traditional in-school method of education, but offer a distance learning option for families who would feel safer not sending their child to school.
Similarly, Berea City School District has stated that it will hold the traditional 5-day a week schedule as well as a 100% virtual option. There have also been discussions about opening with a “hybrid model”. There are many forms of this model: students attending school every other week with virtual learning in between, students attending for half days accompanied by virtual learning, students attending only a few days a week offset by virtual learning.
Outside of Ohio, some schools are expected to go 100% virtual as they have seen a spike in cases. But what does this all mean for your child?
Well, there are pros and cons to all methods of school reopening, but due to the somewhat political nature of this pandemic, a true cost-benefit analysis has been missing. However, we have created a list of pros and cons for each method of reopening. These are not meant to favor one method over the other, rather simply point out some advantages and drawbacks you should be aware of.