COVID-19 is still going strong and things are still closed. However, political will seems to be moving towards opening things back up. Seeing as how the rest of the country cannot open up with kids at home, schools will have to find a way to open, too. This is where a place like Indianapolis faces a unique challenge. While having a wide range of educational options is undoubtedly good for kids, it can create confusion around school closings and openings.
Anyone who has taught in metro Indianapolis knows that a day with a snow delay or cancellation is a wash even if your particular school conducts business as normal. That’s because once students and families see that somebody has canceled school, or somebody has delayed, many operate under the assumption that they are canceled or delayed, too. For example, a mother of a child at a local charter school, might wake up and see that Indianapolis Public Schools is on a delay and assume their children’s school is also. It’s the same with the township schools. Simply put, this cannot be the case upon our return to school.
There is enough confusion with kids essentially getting out of school two months early on short notice. It may be too much to ask that every school returns on the exact same date, but it is certainly possible for schools to norm on how school will resume. Meaning Choosing not to norm things like busing and school policy once you are in school can create enough misunderstanding to derail a return.
Then of course there are the decisions that some families are forced to make. If the younger kids’ school didn’t start some parents will keep the older kids back to watch them. After all, the parents will probably have to work. Also, if all of the schools don’t return at similar dates, then that will send the message to people that it may not actually be safe to send their kids back to school. I’m not here to pass judgment about whether or not such an observation would be correct, but one has to acknowledge the optics of the situation.
Some of these problems will come into play regardless of how coordinated the return is, but they can certainly be mitigated with a little planning. Given how abrupt and disorganized the ending of the previous school year was, we owe it to them to give them the most stable return possible.