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.
More than a month after schools across the nation shut their doors, educators face a choice: Do they teach virtually in real time, or let students learn on their own?
From the White House podium to harried homes, pressure is building to reopen the nation’s schools. But the next iteration of American education will look far different from the classrooms students and teachers abruptly departed last month.
Many overwhelmed school systems remain focused on running remote education that was set up on the fly. Others, though, are deep into planning for what they see coming: an in-between scenario in which schools are open but children are spread out in places where they are normally packed together.
Distance learning has posed a significant challenge for families who are not fluent in English and the teachers who educate them and will continue to be in the months ahead.
Nearly 5 million U.S. schoolchildren are classified as English-language learners and millions more come from homes where their parents speak a different language: About 1 in 4 children, roughly 18 million, in the nation’s K-12 schools live with immigrant parents.
Some districts are giving up on remote learning and ending the academic year early, after concluding that it was too cumbersome for teachers, students and parents.
Washington, D.C., as well as parts of Georgia, Texas and elsewhere plan to end a week to several weeks early.
Read the full story here.
COVID-19 has shuttered most colleges across the country, and students are beginning to rethink their future as financial losses come into play. Thomason and her colleagues are trying everything they can to keep students on track for Spring Hill. And they aren’t alone. EBT, an education firm that studies enrollment, polled admissions leaders around the country on their concern for Fall 2020 enrollment. On a scale of one to five – five being the worst — 43% of those leaders said they were the most concerned and 32% polled four on the scale.
Under the Circumstances, No Pomp for the Class of 2020
Telling the story of a senior year changed by coronavirus
Few years are as laden with symbolic touchstones as the senior year of high school. With this year’s graduates denied those rites of passage due to the coronavirus pandemic — or at least the traditional rituals associated with them — emotions are running understandably high.
For Frances Suavillo, an immigrant from the Philippines who is the valedictorian at Carson High School near Los Angeles, the change in plans wasn’t easy.
‘There Are No Invisible Children’: Erica Green of The New York Times
Veteran reporter shares insights from the national education beat, and how COVID-19 pandemic is influencing her work
(EWA Radio: Episode 236)
Few, if any, education reporters are tackling tougher issues right now than Erica Green of The New York Times, whose stories often share a common theme of focusing on the unmet needs of marginalized students. She discusses recent coverage, including how school cafeteria workers in Baltimore are feeding an entire neighborhood, concerns about a potential federal waiver that would let districts pause services for students with disabilities, and a rare look inside a juvenile detention center where young adults are being left largely unprotected from COVID-19.
One Journalist Crowdfunds for the Furloughed as She Covers the Coronavirus
Inspired by friends' kindness, this Seattle Times reporter set up a furlough fund
When the Seattle suburb of Kirkland became Ground Zero of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, the Seattle Times reporter Paige Cornwell found her beat transforming from covering city council elections to reporting on the most urgently unfolding story in the country.
The stay-at-home order has upended some of California’s most crucial educational and health services for infants and toddlers — home visits and early intervention services — at a time when families may need them the most.
Pandemic Response: [Okla.] State Board of Education to Consider Stop-Gap Measure For New Teachers Unable to Complete Final Certification Requirements
Pandemic-related school closures and the halting of all public gatherings for everything including teacher certification tests could put a whole new batch of Oklahoma teacher candidates in limbo.
That’s why the Oklahoma State Board of Education will be asked to approve a stopgap measure on Thursday, giving new teachers a temporary state certification until they can complete their final requirements.
Before the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the U.S., users of the online therapy service TAO Connect logged about 20,000 minutes of videoconferencing a month on its platform. In April, the company surpassed 70,000 minutes in a single day.
In a different year, incoming freshmen would already have in hand a tightly choreographed schedule for late summer and early fall: the move-in date, the orientation and, finally, the first day of classes.
But on the coronavirus pandemic calendar, there are no dates yet for the next academic year. Just scenarios. And that unprecedented uncertainty is fueling a second wave of crisis for schools already plunged into financial distress.
Ali Wahab learned on a Zoom call that he would no longer be a wrestler for Old Dominion University.
None of the 32 students in the program would be, either, his coaches said during the hastily arranged virtual meeting earlier this month when they announced the bad news. The university is eliminating the wrestling program, and the decision was made in part because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Philadelphia and Other School Districts Resisted Transition to Online Instruction Over Equity Concerns. Advocates Say Children with Disabilities were ‘Scapegoated’
Despite the pounding rain and a tornado watch one recent Monday morning, Anna Perng stood in a line that wrapped around her son’s elementary school in South Philadelphia. Huddled along the side of the brick building, she struggled to keep six feet of distance between herself and other parents, many of whom lacked umbrellas, let alone face masks.
For the Philadelphia School District, the big number is 130,000. As the coronavirus shutdown settles in, that’s the number of students the District must now educate from a distance.
For Mattie Davis, the big number is 23. That’s the number of students in her North Philadelphia first grade classroom. And that’s the number of young educations she’s committed to saving, if necessary, one academic packet and one mail slot at a time.
“It’s been over a month I haven’t heard any of my students read,” she lamented on Monday.
As area school systems work to figure out a way to recognize graduates, the Louisa County school division kicked off its plan this week with individual graduation ceremonies.
There were cheers — but no hugs or handshakes — for the Class of 2020 Wednesday, as Louisa County High School adapted traditions and graduation staples — minus “Pomp and Circumstance” — to make the moment special.
“It’s not the traditional graduation, but we wanted to make sure they get honored,” said Doug Straley, superintendent of Louisa County Public Schools.
Some Colorado districts are planning to have staff and students return to the classroom in the coming weeks for small-group instruction, even as the governor has extended school closures until the end of the academic year.
An amendment to Colorado’s school closure order makes it clear that this is allowed, with Gov. Jared Polis saying he applauds the innovation. One superintendent described it as a trial run for a fall semester that could look very different from the old normal.
For Elisabeth Preis, it’s easy to describe life at home with her three kids during the school shut down. “In a word, pandemonium,” she said. “It’s just so incredibly chaotic.”
Preis is a recently widowed single parent from Brookline. She says every day is a balancing act as she tries to keep her career afloat while attempting to keep her two older kids on track with their school work and tend to a two year old.
With the money she was set to earn this summer as a camp counselor in New York City, 16-year-old LaToya Beecham was finally going to be able to pay for her own school supplies in the fall, as well as chip in on groceries and rent. Though LaToya’s father is an essential worker, money has been tight, and the extra cash would have eased some of their financial stress.
None of that will happen now.
Lawmakers and business leaders started outlining the delicate dance of restarting businesses, putting students back in classrooms and opening beaches and theme parks.
A misstep could mean a resurgence of the deadly coronavirus strain or leave the state unprepared for the second wave predicted for the fall, according to disease experts.
The new normal won’t look like anything before the deadly coronavirus strain made its presence known, leaving left 650,000 Floridians filing for unemployment claims and forcing 3.1 million students to take classes online.