Students now home through April. Are you ready?

So, the other shoe dropped today with the announcement that public schools and colleges will remain closed through most of April due to the virus that has Georgia in its grip.

For many parents, the news was less of a shoe dropping than a boulder falling. 

The decision was not unexpected. Virginia has already announced its schools are finished for this year, and most colleges made clear they will remain online for the rest of the semester.

Still, some parents were thinking, dreaming of a miracle -- a return to school on March 31, as originally suggested by the governor when he first shuttered schools because of the coronavirus. 

Today. Gov. Brian P. Kemp issued an executive order closing public elementary and secondary schools for in-person instruction through April 24. Students may return to school on Monday, April 27. 

But will they? 

The governor implied that date is not carved in stone, more like pudding. 

“As we approach April 24, 2020, we ask for continued patience and flexibility since circumstances may change, but we encourage families to stay strong and follow the guidance of federal, state, and local leaders in the weeks ahead,” he said. 

The University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia will remain closed for in-person instruction through the rest of the semester since students have already transitioned to all online learning.

This news means many parents will continue to straddle two roles: work-at-home employees and home schoolers. And that includes the thousands of teachers attempting to keep 30 to 150 students current on their coursework and manage their own children’s well being.

Here are a few considerations in light of this news that merit discussion:

  1. The feds and states have suspended accountability testing this year. While they will surely return to the tests in 2021, they should not  use them to rate teachers or schools. In some cases, it will take a year to climb out of the learning holes being created by the school shutdown.
  2. When students return in the fall, the first few weeks will have to be focused on catch-up and remediation, especially in math. 
  3. Some districts where kids already struggle to meet state standards should consider summer boot camps that combine academic help with a bit of fun.
  4. This is unprecedented in U.S. modern history – a pandemic that forced the shutdown of an entire education system from daycare to grad school with no time to prepare and no maps to follow. We don’t know the long-range implications or consequences. So, we shouldn’t hold fast to any predictions or expectations.
  5. We all need to breathe more.

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About the Author

Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.
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