Dealing with the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the education system in the U.S. has caused us to ask the question of the year when it comes to schools – namely, “What kind of education is needed at this moment in history?” At this historical juncture, the resounding response can only be – homeschooling in one form or another.
The website https://learnwithteacherces.com/homeschooling-is-the-new-normal-in-2020/ offers an excellent summary of what has occurred in the U.S. “Homeschooling became the new normal in 2020 because of a pandemic. Social distancing became a safety protocol. This made a significant impact on educational decisions. Public and private schools revamped their curriculum to accommodate distance learning. Online classes for all ages became the norm. A lot of parents are all of a sudden interested in what homeschooling is all about.”
Based on July 15, 2020 information, many school districts have announced they will not be reopening in the fall of 2020. Journalist Lizzy Francis, writing for the “Fatherly” website (Dad Advice for Parenting) on July 14th, explains that “For many parents, who have spent the past few months trying, and reasonably failing, to do two jobs at once, the possibility of school doors opening again and kids entering those doors, away from home, for 8 hours a day feels like a necessity. For many teachers and many other parents, those doors opening also brings a spike in anxiety, as many worry if their schools can actually create conditions for social distancing and COVID-19 safety in our nation’s schools, or whether or not they will be putting themselves, or their children, at risk of a deadly virus.” (https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/heres-schools-theyre-not-reopening-155623056.html)
Ms. Francis further notes that many public schools have announced they will go against federal recommendations to open up completely, and “will start the school year online, citing a lack of conclusive research on COVID-19 in schools, lack of resources to reopen buildings safely, and rising cases in their state.” Many more schools will offer a hybrid version of in-person instruction combined with a remote/homeschooling version of public school. Parents in many places are being offered a choice between remote or in-person instruction.
HOW WILL PARENTS ADJUST IF HOMESCHOOLING IS THE NEW NORMAL?
Tons of humorous memes are circulating online about how parents are working to adjust to working at home full time while schooling their kids at home either part-time or full time. With millions of kids being homeschooled during the pandemic, parents are being forced to learn how to balance a “new normal” with their own reality of having to work full time to put food on the table and pay the rent or mortgage every month. One website offered the following humorous reality: “Now that school is closed for a while, my kids will be taking:
- AP Chores
- Honors Yard Work
- Dishwashing 101
- AP Trash Disposal
- Home Economics (aka – make your own lunch)
- Honors Laundry.”
In all due seriousness, and with respect to the difficult space working parents are now required to fill, some parents are openly resisting school district plans to open schools in the fall. Others are, sometimes reluctantly, declaring that they cannot be both a full-time breadwinner and a part-time home school teacher and, thus, need their kids to be back in school in September – but with “safe” conditions in place in the school buildings and classrooms. (Note that school districts are often responding to this request saying they do not have the budget dollars available to make schools and classrooms truly “safe,” no matter what definition of “safe” is used.)
HOW DO TEACHERS FEEL ABOUT THE NEW NORMAL?
An example response to this question comes from Arlington, Virginia where “teachers have openly called for an online-only return to school in the state and a delayed start to increase teacher training for the return to remote instruction. The group calls for a fully and exclusively distance-learning model, four days a week, until the state sees two weeks with absolutely no COVID-19 cases.” (https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/heres-schools-theyre-not-reopening-155623056.html.)
The website https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/14-tweets-sum-teachers-feel-050000198.html offers statements from educators that seem to pretty much sum up the sense many teachers have about the possibility of completely opening schools in August and September. Writer Christine Organ points out in a July 14, 2020 article for the website that “It’s mind-boggling and maddening and downright terrifying. When schools went to remote learning back in March, there were about 20,000 new (COVID-19) cases a day. On July 11, there were more than 66,000 cases in a single day. Yet many school districts across the country are planning to resume in-person education in August or September, despite the fact that we’re affirmatively less safe than we were when they closed. Like face masks, sending kids back into classroom settings has become a political issue.”
WILL HOME SCHOOLING BE THE “FINAL ANSWER” FOR THE COMING SCHOOL YEAR?
The “New Normal” question is not limited to problems being addressed by U.S. school systems. Although the following reference is intended for the secondary education community in the Philippines, it rings true for the U.S. and the entire world.
“We always go back to how we can help students make the best out of the cards they were dealt… We can’t change the cards, but we can change their understanding of the other cards they were dealt… It’s helping the students through all the decisions they have to make and helping them stay resilient. It’s making sure they find their joy and their purpose. It’s not easy for anyone. It’s gonna be hard work, but if you know your ‘why,’ it’ll help you figure out the best available ‘how.’ “ (Source: Business World, June 15, 2020 | Education’s new normal: a chat with Edukasyon.ph’s Henry Motte-Munoz. https://www.msn.com/en-ph/money/topstories/educations-new-normal-a-chat-with-edukasyonphs-henry-motte-mu%C3%B1oz/ar-BB15tznT)
An April 3, 2020 article in U.S. News and World Report by Raychelle Cassada Lohmann, Ph.D sums up the new normal during the Coronavirus pandemic: ”Parents and school personnel have a common interest, which is to make sure kids get the education they need to prepare for the future. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we can teach our children a lot about how to cope and adapt to change during stressful times. This will help them tackle challenges not only related to school but in all aspects of their lives.” (https://health.usnews.com/wellness/for-parents/articles/virtual-education-the-new-normal-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic)
For further assistance with and advice about how to transition your children from a full-time public school atmosphere to a full-time home schooling or hybrid home school and public education model, contact: Global Student Network at www.globalstudentnetwork.com .