By Jim Bowman
Picking up from where we left off, Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota:
. . . long-distance learning may have gotten us through the initial crisis, but it is not a long-term solution.
. . . because of the great disparities in remote learning. Initial nationwide research suggests that students will return to school in the fall with roughly 70 percent of learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year, and less than 50 percent in math, according to projections from the NWEA [North West Evaluation Association]. Remote learning may work for some, but it is not the answer for most.
In South Dakota . . .
. . . one of our largest school districts self-reported that they lost contact with as many as 30 percent of students when we went online. Think about that: some schools in our state haven't heard from as many as a third of their kids since March. That cannot continue. Those kids are likely to fall behind, with lifelong consequences to their career opportunities and family life.
That so in Oak Park and River Forest? Worth reporting by the districts.
And teachers, staff, administrators?
. . . teachers are unlikely to be infected by students. Remember what that SickKids report tells us: "evidence is mounting that children may be less susceptible to this virus and may be less likely to transmit the virus to others." If kids are unlikely to get teachers sick, then teachers' main health concern would be protecting against transmission between themselves.
Teachers et al. "not in high-risk category"? In S Dakota "vast majority" not.
But some are, and they have many options available to them, such as social distancing, masking, and proper hygiene. If vulnerable teachers need to teach online classes to vulnerable students, that is certainly an option that is also available.
Finally, keep in mind something else.
. . . online instruction does not reduce exposure outside the classroom. Dr. Scott Atlas at Stanford University notes that the risks to adults in schools are much less than those encountered in grocery stores, pharmacies, and other essential businesses.
Always ask, especially in dangerous situations, compared to what? Teachers are already exposed before they enter a classroom and we presume already take protective measures. Classroom exposure is less, possibly far less a problem.
Food for thought, I do believe, and not just in South Dakota.
Answer Book 2019
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