Today at a 4:00 news conference, Governor Kemp announced that physical school buildings will be closed for the remainder of the school year. While a relief for some parents, for others it was a shocking turn of events that have left parents shocked, overwhelmed and anxious about what’s next.
“I’m shocked. I know we’re to continue to have online school, but I’m disappointed for my son who graduates this year.” said Kesha a parent from Dekalb County Schools remarked.
For the last twenty-one days in Georgia, parents, and teachers have adjusted to the new normal of virtual schooling due to the coronavirus pandemic. There have been remarkable stories of teachers visiting children in their homes with posters of encouragement and school districts banding together to provide breakfast and lunch, but with those stories are more around how devastating the rise of coronavirus cases in Albany, Georgia or the staff who have been diagnosed. To say, the last 21+ days have been an exhausting news cycle.
Issuing a statewide shelter-in-place order which including closing physical school buildings was the only logical choice to keep students safe. However with Georgia having 4,600+ confirmed cases of the virus and nearly 140 deaths, parents should continue ask questions on how we can be sucessful ending the 2019-2020 school year and starting on track for the 2020-2021 school year.
Here are five questions that every parent should be asking:
1. What’s the plan for students who already academically behind not only for this school year, but next school year. With an estimated one in six Georgians who have low literacy skills and 63% of Georgia’s third-graders are not reading on grade level, the planning should start now for targeted virtual tutoring.
2. What are the options for the Class of 2020’s graduation? With the numbers for COVID-19 increasing daily, graduations seem to be a hopeful wish. Some colleges have postponed graduation until late Summer, or at worst in the Fall. What options do our students and families have?
3. What are the budgetary impacts from COVID-19 for the 2020-2021 school year? Right now budgets are being finalized but from more tutoring offering for students to updates technology devices, the effects of this pandemic will be long standing.
4. What will professional learning for further professional learning for teachers going into the new school year? Job-embedded learning is critical for teachers to continue to stretch their knowledge of the ever-changing digital world.
5. Will all schools be professionally cleaned to ensure that when school opens in 2020-2021, parents can be assured that kids are entering buildings that are clean and safe? With kids and teachers leaving suddenly, there has to be a procedure to clean up the buildings and be ready for next school year.
We’re in uncharted terrorities and right now the more questions, the more room for clarity.