How Will Kids Go To School After Coronavirus? State Official Offers Ideas
Yesterday, Governor Gavin Newsom threw public schools a curveball. He announced he’s “considering” asking schools to start the new school year earlier than normal — perhaps as soon as July.
How would that work? We really don’t know for sure. We’d really like to know. So would a lot of teachers.
During a legislative hearing yesterday, State Board of Education Chair Linda Darling-Hammond gave some indication of how California officials envision schools reopening, whenever that happens. Some highlights:
- Newsom suggests students might have to ‘stagger’ their schedules — what does that mean? Would there be a morning shift and a night shift? Would it be like the bygone days in Los Angeles Unified, when students attended overcrowded schools year-round? On Tuesday, Darling-Hammond suggested students might attend a physical classroom every day, spending half their time in distance learning at home. This would make it easier to maintain physical distancing on campuses.
- Keep kids with the same teachers — for a while: It’s a practice known as “looping,” and Darling-Hammond says research on “continuity in student-teacher relationships” supports her suggestion. She suggested schools might pass students on to their next grade-level teacher after the first quarter of next school year.
- Schools may have to close campuses again and should be prepared to “toggle between being open and closed” if coronavirus cases spike, Darling-Hammond said.
When will schools reopen? Also unclear — and it’s not even clear how eager local school officials are to run with the governor’s suggestion.
.@UTLAnow issues chilly statement on @CAgovernor's idea of an early start to next school year, cautioning "against prematurely lifting social distancing protections by opening schools."#LAUSD's teachers union also says negotiations with the district would be necessary #caedchat pic.twitter.com/skRDQTVP1Z— Kyle Stokes (@kystokes) April 29, 2020
But all of the uncertainty is beginning to fray nerves.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Assembly Budget Committee Chair Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) said he has been disappointed by what he called a lack of clear guidance from the state’s Department of Education on distance learning:
If this is the way things are going, why don’t we just do a red-shirt year? Let’s just take off next year! Let’s just call it what it is — if there are no guidelines and every teacher for him or herself … I thought that as a parent, I would feel reassured after this panel, and I’m even more concerned afterwards.
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