No doubt their credentials are valid and their expertise should be respected. Duke University is one of the finest institutions in the nation, despite the fact that I root against them in every sport (especially men’s basketball) as I am the graduate of another Tobacco Road school.
But I do not think they really got to the meat of the situation when it comes to the reopening of schools this fall semester in North Carolina.
Within their perspective they share the following:
And I am not going to argue much there other than we are dealing with a novel virus whose full power still has not been totally as far as its long term effects are concerned. At least that is what I see.
But it is their suggested avenue of action that raises some questions.
“With schools opening, we should mount a focused effort to document transmission patterns among children, teachers, and staff. Resources should be immediately made available to school systems for protective equipment and cleaning supplies, and importantly, additional staff for reduced class sizes plus larger teaching spaces to allow for social distancing. Furthermore, policies on the length of time that classmates must quarantine after a classroom exposure to the virus should be refined to limit continual disruptions of moving between virtual and in-person learning for both children and caregivers.
Finally, to make informed decisions about managing schools throughout the fall and winter, we must develop child-specific metrics to monitor the virus’ spread in children’s settings. Potential metrics include numbers of outbreaks tied to childcare or school settings, proportion of children and school staff that test positive for the virus, and absenteeism tied to respiratory illnesses. Moreover, to balance risk of infections with overall child well-being, decision-makers should consider taking a harm-reduction approach that considers not only the number of COVID-19 cases but also child metal heath, food security, and academic progress.”
Just look at those suggestions:
- “Resources should be immediately made available.”
- “Protective equipment.”
- “Cleaning supplies.”
- “Additional staff.”
- “Reduced class sizes.”
- “Larger teaching spaces.”
- “Quarantine protocols.”
- “Managing metrics.”
It sounds as if these medical professionals are offering solutions based on the most ideal of situations. And it assumes that we teachers haven’t already mentioned these. Many times. But…
NORTH CAROLINA’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS DO NOT OPERATE UNDER IDEAL SITUATIONS EVEN IN ECONOMIC BOOMS WITH NO PANDEMIC.
Sure, it would be great if we could just hire more staff devoted to making sure that social distancing was occurring along with other proper protocol.
Sure, it would be nice to have smaller classes and be able to teach in uncrowded buildings, but space does not magically appear.
Sure, it would be nice to have all of those supplies like protective equipment and cleaning supplies, but many schools don’t have enough of the basics in a good uneventful school year.
And who is going to do all of that managing metrics and quarantine protocols?
What happens if a teacher does get sick? Or a an elderly family member in a student’s home?
The intentions are fantastic. The problem is that it ignores the reality of the situation: this legislature with its powers that be will in no way offer up the resources and monies to even think about putting this “Plan B” offering into practice.
Even on a minimum level.
Yes, teachers want to be with their students – face-to-face. SAFELY.
And we want to be able to teach – not just manage metrics.