While the summer is winding down and parents are getting their kids ready for school this fall, the question that is on everyone’s mind is, are they going to reopen? According to the Federal, Government data suggest that some schools are lagging behind in getting students back to campus full time.
When schools closed their doors back in March 2020, many school districts were left scrambling to adjust to remote learning. Classes went online in many schools in a mixed way that did not flow well for parents, students, and teachers. This was a huge hurdle to tackle and adjust to in a very short time. This left many students, teachers, and parents wondering what it was going to be like in the fall of 2021.
Over the summer the debate over reopening took center stage, as school leaders struggled to answer how and when it would be safe to return to the classroom with the delta variant in center stage.
The Center for American Progress has been tracking trends in schools for remote learning efforts across America. CAP also looked at different communities to understand how educators, students, and parents were affected by these trends. Throughout the past year, schools throughout the United States have taken vastly different approaches to education. As school districts plan for the upcoming school year and life after the pandemic, these trends can help inform decisions for educators and parents when it comes to going back to school this fall.
Trend #1: Schools Reopening
All public schools in the U.S. closed in March of 2020 due to the pandemic with the rising threat of Coronavirus. Schools in only two states Wyoming and Montana remained closed til the end of the year, while many reopened partially with some in-person instruction. Many of the plans over the 2020 summer resulted in patch-work learning for the fall of 2020. While many of the schools did reopen in some capacity, 74% of the 100 school districts started with only remote instruction affecting more than nine million students across America.
During this time many school districts had adopted mask mandates and temperature checks based on the advice given by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Many schools found during this time that while temperature checks helped give them guidance on who potentially could be sick, they found that these readings fluctuated often. This was found because of weather, where on the body you took the temperature if they were wearing extra layers during winter months and getting out a warm car often caused a false reading too.
Many schools adopted safety protocols from the CDC which have been in effect for years during each flu season. Many people want to understand the science behind the effectiveness of handwashing and sanitizing to prevent the spread of disease. The CDC has several pages that show the science behind these claims and each year people use these practices to help prevent flu, the common cold and many other illnesses from spreading throughout schools and homes.
What the Center For American Progress found overall over the course of the 2020 school year was many schools were being pushed to reopen fully, but many of the hurdles of engaging parents, teachers, students and administrators to feel comfortable and safe while the pandemic was still going on. Most schools lacked the infrastructure to implement many safety features and remote learning. Also, many parents were reluctant to send their children back to in-person learning because so many things were uncertain. Schools must remained vigilant during these times and many took advantage of the American Rescue Plan to get funds to adopt better air purification equipment, hand sanitizing stations and touchless equipment to reduce cross-contamination throughout school grounds.
The Good News
The good news is we are almost a year past the Fall 2020 opening of schools and the pandemic is almost behind us. Schools reopening this Fall looks promising with many ready for in-person instruction and some remote learning still. Even though the delta-variant is out there, the vaccination of citizens across America has helped to slow the spread and stop the Coronavirus.