The school year is coming to an end. Next year, schools are largely planning to be open for full-time in-person instruction. While that is a welcome change to the impromptu distance learning that schools have been forced to engage in this year, it does have a drawback: People might forget the lessons from the storm we just came out of. It may be tempting to get “back to normal” but the smart thing to do would be to learn and grow from the last year.
Those lessons may be different for everyone, but what are some examples of the main knowledge we learned nationwide that will still matter when schools return to in-person?
- The digital divide is real.
The concept of the digital divide is not new. Since the 90s people have been sounding the alarm about the technology disparity in our nation. To be clear, that disparity never mattered more than it did this past year due to exclusively learning virtually … but it will STILL matter next year. Schools and districts should no longer pretend they don’t recognize the impact of that disparity.
- Schools depend on school for more than learning.
There are a lot of gaps in social services that are usually covered by schools. That became greatly apparent when schools were closed. Yes, there were contingency plans drawn up for areas like distributing food and mental health, but they were honestly poor stand-ins for the general services students were used to receiving.
- Some students did better with e-;earning.
It is the worst kept secret that e-learning is not the best setting for all students, but is a good setting for SOME students. We can and should take what works for those students and implement that into our normal school year plans.
- The nation shuts-down without teachers.
As the nation was trying to open back up, the conversation always centered around schools. That’s because parents can’t go back to work with kids at home. If the nation doesn’t function without teachers, maybe they should be paid more?
- We were not ready for this disaster.
Pandemics are rare but not unprecedented. Statistically speaking, a large segment of the population is likely to live through another one. Maybe we should have better contingency plans for the next time around.
The 21-22 school year should more closely resemble the previous years. That doesn’t mean that 20-21 didn’t happen. Let’s take the lessons from the past year and apply them to the next to get better