Here’s the thing: I want my kids to go to school.
In fact, I think most of the parents and families I’ve talked to these past few months would love for their kids to go back to school.
We would love to see kids interacting with each other, socializing, playing on the playgrounds or fields running around, eating lunch together, seeing other kids’ smiles, talking with teachers, playing sports, playing instruments, dancing, singing, making art, making anything, and being a kid again.
Who wouldn’t want to see that?
I took it for granted as a parent before this pandemic happened, and miss our way of life pre-COVID 19. Again, most folks that I talk to agree that we would love for kids to be back in school.
But, here’s the other thing: I understand why they can’t go back to school (or at least go back in the way we would want).
Here is a quick peek at some of the considerations from the CDC:
A few reasons why I understand that kids can’t go back to school the way we’d like, even though most of us want them back in school:
- There are still thousands of people getting Covid-19 every day and dying from this disease every day. It is still very much a pandemic. This should seem obvious, but just sharing it to cover the basics.
- There are not enough classroom spaces to ensure kids are separated by 6 feet.
- There are not enough teachers to teach/support the additional classes needed with the CDC guidelines.
- There are not enough vehicles to transport kids safely to school with the CDC guidelines.
- There are not enough supplies to support the CDC guidelines for a safe return back to school.
- Many schools have awful ventilation, windows that don’t open, classrooms without windows, etc. Ventilation has always been a problem in deteriorating buildings that have not been updated.
- There is no funding available to provide twice as many teachers, vehicles, and facilities than we currently have in place.
This is why many schools can only hope to provide a safe environment in hybrid/blended or full remote/online environments.
Our local school is planning on going back to a hybrid environment and all the kids in town walk to school (a small school in a small town).
Almost every other area school around us that has to worry about transportation has gone full remote/online to start the school year.
I could go on, but as anyone who has been in education can tell you: Most school systems are inadequately funded. They have been for years, decades.
This was before we needed twice as many rooms, buses, and staff per the current guidelines.
None of these reasons are that “teachers don’t want to go back to school”.
ALL of these reasons are WHY teachers are worried to go back to school.
Does that make sense?
Most teachers I’ve talked to also would love to be back in their classrooms working with students each and every day.
Our current conditions don’t make that feasible in most situations.
Ask us what we think about the facilities, supplies, transportation, in our schools and most of us will tell you the truth: They’ve needed updating for years before the pandemic.
Heck, just ask us for any of our ideas about going back to school safely.
Now, as schools are facing a funding crisis, and a teacher shortage crisis like never before, we are seeing clear reasons why many schools can’t move forward with in-person learning.
Probably, like me, you want your kid to go back to school.
Hopefully, like me, you understand why in many areas they can’t right now.
If you don’t understand, talk to a teacher. Talk to a school administrator. Talk to any educator. Ask them about the challenges they are facing right now. Be empathetic to their situation and all that it entails.
As my friend Tom Murray says, “The difference between making a judgment and having empathy is understanding the story.”
Hear the stories. Learn the stories. Understand the stories.
Here’s hoping for a day very soon, when my kids, and your kids can go back to school, in-person, in a safe environment.
Until then, I personally want to say thank you to the teachers, support staff, school administrators, boards, and everyone involved in making this school year happen and learning continue, whether it is online, hybrid, or any other combination.