Today brought a new report, this time from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, recommending that school districts “prioritize full-time in-person classes for grades K-5 and students with special needs.” This comes a day after the Baltimore County School superintendent, Darryl L. Williams,’ announced that he’s “leaning towards remote learning” for at least the beginning of the school year (”Baltimore County schools superintendent leaning towards virtual fall return,” July 14). While there is no indication of what remote learning will look like in the fall or how long it would go on, it’s probably safe to assume it will be similar to what was offered in the spring, i.e. paper packets, online worksheets, and at it’s peak a maximum of one hour of instruction per day in a Google Meets class for several months.
This is an abandonment of our public schools promise to “provide for every student, the highest quality 21st century education” and despite the nearly four months the school district has had to plan, it demonstrates no discernible effort to prepare for a safe return to school for our kids in Baltimore County, or a reasonable effort to prepare for further online learning.
School is not a babysitter or child care facility. Our kids go to school to learn — academically, but also socially and emotionally. Our children are the ones that suffer for the lack of planning and last minute decisions made by the school district. The impact of this failure is huge and far reaching. The biggest impact will be felt by the youngest kids, families where caregivers must work outside the home, and those that cannot afford to fill the gap with full-time babysitters, tutors or private schools. All of this from a nation that prides itself on our public education system. Not only is COVID-19 directly impacting minority communities with increased rates of infection, hospitalization and death, but it also is impacting the generation that is likely to survive by leaving them under-educated, alone, and emotionally/socially unsupported. I hope the school system will reconsider their stance for the fall and make a decision that supports the emotional, social and academic growth of their students in a safe and supportive manner.
Geri O’Donoghue, Baltimore
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