COVID-19 is still here, and, in some ways, it is even worse than it was before as the Delta variant seems to be impacting children more than the previous versions. However, our response to it has changed dramatically. Schools, by and large, are no longer closing due to COVID-19 outbreaks, at least not to the same extent. However, students who test positive for coronavirus, or in some cases students who merely show symptoms are still generally required to quarantine at home for a couple of weeks.
You would think that being fresh off the heels of mass remote learning that students learning from home would be somewhat better off than before; however, that has not been the case.
The last year and a half, large segments of students where learning form home. In some schools, ALL the students were learning from home. Under that paradigm, schools and teachers adjusted their methods to serve the remote population because it is large enough to be a primary concern. Some students may still be out for a while, but in many cases, it is no more than a few kids per class. Under the in-person school model the quarantined students become the exception to the rule … and “exceptions” in education are almost always underserved.
At my school, administrators send out a list of students who need work sent home. These are typically students who have COVID-19 or have come in close contact with someone else who has. Teachers are supposed to make sure students are doing something that at-least approximates what they are doing in class. That doesn’t always happen. Thankfully, at my school, administration picks up a lot of the slack when it comes to remote learning students. Quarantined students at other schools have not been so lucky.
This is a problem. Students who can’t engage with material for two plus weeks will surely come back out of the loop. In a subject like math, missing a key concept can put a student behind the 8 ball the whole year. I think everyone can agree that students have lost enough learning without adding additional gaps in schooling from this year.
I personally have to climb high to get on my high horse to complain about this because I am one of the teachers that forgets to send work home. Admittedly, even the times I have sent it home, it has been busy work as opposed to being aligned to what they should actually learn in school. There are reasons for this. It is difficult to plan lessons and content for two separate ways of learning, and honestly, I don’t have the time to do so. I’m guessing this is the case for most teachers, so unfortunately remote students lose out.
That is unacceptable, and there are ways to combat this problem.
The way I solved it was by taking the planning off my plate. Instead of making copies and re-creating content for students who were not going to be there, I found online platforms that host modules on the same content that I am teaching in class. I still have the ability to monitor and grade their progress, but I don’t have to make it myself. Other teachers have also started making their lessons in school easier to modify in the event that a student has to do the work at home. For example, keep the same deliverables but record one of your class lectures just in case students need it at home. It is very little extra work to record a class you already teach, and at some schools coaches record parts of your lesson anyway.
There should be no doubt that this situation puts more work on teachers; however, we need to rise to the occasion and innovate in order to make sure students are being served the way they need to be. Staying home after contracting COVID-19 is the responsible thing to do. We shouldn’t punish students and families for making a healthy and responsible decision.