Coronavirus and Education
As communities nationwide grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, educators are struggling to provide young people with meaningful opportunities to continue learning even with most public schools now closed. In this installment of Word on the Beat, we look at how digital tools are being put into quick action for K-12 education — and how that’s creating both opportunities and challenges for teachers, students, and families.
Keep Calm and Report On
In any health crisis, the news media is a critical source of information for the public. Education reporters can, and should, play a key role in their newsroom coverage, given that schools are a significant factor in efforts to contain and limit the existing outbreak of the coronavirus.
This spring, America took an involuntary crash course in remote learning. With the school year now winding down, the grade from students, teachers, parents and administrators is already in: It was a failure.
School districts closed campuses in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic and, with practically no time at all for planning or training, launched a grand experiment to educate more than 50 million students from kindergarten through 12th grade using technology.
Christian Herr is only 35, but he has been on medication ever since he suffered a heart attack in his classroom nine years ago. His cardiologist is clear: Herr’s condition puts him at risk of dangerous complications if he contracts the novel coronavirus.
So two months after his school closed, and with next school year on the horizon, Herr, a sixth-grade science teacher in the District, wonders: Can he go back when classrooms reopen? Will he be safe? How will he know?
While a nation of burned-out, involuntary home schoolers slogs to the finish line of a disrupted academic year, a picture is emerging of the extent of the learning loss among children in America, and the size of the gaps schools will be asked to fill when they reopen.
It is not pretty.
In times of great political and social upheaval, schools often serve as a protected space outside the home for students to wrestle with difficult concepts, guided by an educated professional. But those conversations are hard to have right now. To start, there’s a pandemic, and school buildings are closed. It’s also the end of the academic term. Not to mention the ongoing hurdle: Many teachers are uncomfortable talking about race and racism, especially racism against black Americans.
It’s the first day of school in Mount Olive Township, and masked students wait in line for their initial test: a mandatory temperature screening.
Those who pass are allowed to enter the building and follow designated one-way hallways to their classrooms, possibly a gymnasium or an auditorium to maintain strict social distancing requirements.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education said Wednesday that elementary and secondary schools in the yellow or green reopening phase can resume in-person instruction and activities beginning July 1.
The schools must first develop health and safety plans based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department of Health, officials said.
More than half of the country’s 13,000 school districts need to update or replace multiple building systems in their schools, according to a new Government Accountability Office report published Thursday.
Topics on the table: The issue of liability waivers, an at-risk faculty, the costs of implementing social distancing measures, and the necessity and economic pressure to have in-person classes.
Gordon Parks Showed America the Rage Behind Decades of Racial Unrest. On Thursday, Minneapolis Rioters Burned the School Named for Him
On the third night of the anarchy that is reducing my city to cinders, someone started a fire at Gordon Parks High School. It was one of hundreds of fires that have accompanied protests over the killing of a black man by Minneapolis police officers. The school fire did not make national headlines — no surprise, given that the main event the night that building was torched was the burning of the police department’s Third Precinct and several beloved and historic surrounding blocks.
The 2020 Kentucky High School Teacher of the Year was arrested this weekend protesting the death of Breonna Taylor in downtown Louisville.
Matt Kaufmann, who teaches in Jefferson County Public Schools, was booked Sunday night on an unspecified misdemeanor charge, according to the Department of Corrections booking log.
Read the full story here.
What’s New With ‘Varsity Blues’
The latest on the college-admissions scandal, and how COVID-19 is reshaping what campuses will look like this fall
(EWA Radio: Episode 239)
With more celebrity defendants pleading guilty to using a high-priced fixer to help their kids cheat their way into top colleges, what’s been the impact on college admissions? The Wall Street Journal’s Melissa Korn, whose book on the “Varsity Blues” scandal has been optioned for a television project, discusses the latest developments, as well as the fallout more broadly for higher education.
Thousands of families will now have to look for another way to feed their kids after Chicago Public Schools suspended its meal distribution program “based on the evolving nature of activity across the city,” officials announced late Sunday night.
The district, the nation’s third largest, has given out more than 12.5 million meals since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through a food program that has been widely praised by parents who rely on schools as a primary food source. Of CPS’ 355,000 students, 271,000 come from low-income families and about 17,000 are homeless.
‘Moments Like Now Are Why We Teach’: Educators Tackle Tough Conversations About Race and Violence — This Time Virtually
Reading about Brown v. Board of Education over Google Meet. Holding one-on-one Zooms with students struggling with their emotions. Planning lessons on criminal justice reform for the fall — both in-person and remote, in case school buildings don’t reopen.
EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat.
This multi-day conference is designed to give participants the skills, understanding, and inspiration to improve their coverage of education at all levels. It also will deliver a lengthy list of story ideas. We will offer numerous sessions on important education issues, as well as on journalism skills.
Seth Andrew, who founded a network of more than 20 charter schools spread across the country, has been on a strange sort of mission over the past couple of years: to purchase a bucolic yet dying New England college campus and repurpose it as a new sort of educational institution.
After fleeting flirtations with Green Mountain College and Southern Vermont College, which both closed last year, Andrew met his match in the economically troubled Marlboro College in Vermont, which is expected to merge with Boston’s Emerson College later this year.
More than 100,000 children in Indiana don’t have a computer or a computer with internet access at home, according to an analysis of federal data.
An analysis of federal data by WFYI News and SAVI, a public data program at The Polis Center at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, offers a look at who among Indiana’s 1.7 million children are impacted by lack of access.
The fate of Andy Kidd’s teaching job was almost decided by a high-stakes card draw.
It was 2008, and budget cuts were imminent. With the country headed into terrible financial straits, school districts around Washington decided to lay off teachers in order to weather the storm.
One day, administrators summoned Kidd to Shoreline district headquarters. He and another Shorecrest High School teacher each drew from a deck of cards. A peculiar set of union seniority rules dictated what happened next: the person with the higher card, he said, would be spared.
Michigan State University students are heading back to campus in the fall amid COVID-19, President Samuel Stanley announced Wednesday. “At this point, we believe that a values-driven return is possible and can be done in a way that mitigates the risks to our community,” Stanley wrote in a letter to the campus community.
Classes will begin Sept. 2 and will include in-person and online components. In-person instruction will end Nov. 25, before Thanksgiving, with the remainder of the semester conducted virtually.
When Rebecca Brewer started teaching high school biology 20 years ago, it seemed like everyone trusted science. Teaching topics like the science of vaccinations elicited little controversy. But in the past few years, she’s seen a shift. Now, every year, she reliably has a few students who push back against the topic. “Their parents’ opinions make their way into the classroom,” said Brewer, who teaches in Troy, Michigan. “Of course, some students will bring up the idea they’ve heard that there’s a connection between vaccinations and autism.”
In the wake of a federal order for schools to keep providing special education during school closures, one of the trickiest parts of those services — mandatory parent meetings — has proven to be an unexpected boon in some districts but almost impossible in others.