The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the disparities in many areas, education included. My 8th grader, who attends a private Christian school, was able to start school fully in-person and on time. Then, the Marion County Health Department required all schools to go virtual in late November.
This was the best case scenario for my son who has ADHD and receives additional help in math. Almost immediately after schools were closed in March, I enrolled my son in math tutoring. I know this is an area of struggle for him and without the additional help, he would have most certainly fallen behind.
I also have two friends who have sons attending local charter schools. Both schools started the school year fully in-person with a virtual option for parents who did not feel comfortable sending their children to school just yet.
The school option parents choose for their kids is now part of almost any discussion among parents these days. I have spoken to some parents that were only given an online option for their children, and their children have struggled. On the other hand, some parents reported that their children have thrived, and they are wondering if virtual education will remain an educational option for their children.
I have seen parents who have the resources, access school choice to fit the needs of their children and families. Some moved their children to complete virtual school options, others have moved their children from public schools that only offered virtual instruction to private or charter schools that offered some sort of hybrid or full in-person options.
What has been hardest to watch is parents who don’t have the resources to make a huge change to accommodate their children’s learning style and family needs. The truth is there are many charter schools that don’t offer transportation which can be difficult for many families. Affordability of private school even with the Indiana Choice Voucher program is still out of reach for many. Tutoring can be quite the expense for families living on a tight budget. Then there is the challenge of internet access and many families that have to share one laptop or tablet for multiple children. Let’s not forget about the many children who are left to navigate e-learning alone each day as their parents work essential jobs to keep food on the table each week.
We have been lucky enough to provide the best possible learning environment for our son during these uncertain times. However, we must remember there are a lot of families who don’t have that option for so many reasons. While we are navigating the pandemic, we must try to support these families and children the best way we can. Hopefully, options that were a offered during the pandemic continue once the pandemic ends.