In wake of pandemic, the new normal in schools could widen the economic gap among students, educators fear
Added 05-22-20 08:11:03pm EST - “With the coronavirus expected to remain a threat through at least next spring and a reliance on "distance learning" likely to continue, the burden will fall most heavily on the neediest students, living in homes lacking computers,…” - News.yahoo.com
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School buses with four out of five seats empty, daily temperature checks, students in school buildings just one or two days a week (but for a longer school year) — these are some of the drastic changes likely coming for many of the more than 50 million public school students this fall. With the coronavirus expected to remain a threat through at least next spring and a reliance on “distance learning” likely to continue, the burden will fall most heavily on the neediest students, living in homes lacking computers, internet connectivity or adults at home during the school day, and school officials nationwide are grappling with how to ensure they don’t fall further behind.
School districts are weighing the limitations inherent to distance learning as they consider models for next year, according to Daniel Domenech, executive director of the School Superintendents Association. For example, some school districts are planning to prioritize elementary-age students for in-person spots because administrators believe barriers to online learning can be more easily overcome by older students. Other districts are considering models that will prioritize in-school spots for the neediest students, Domenech said.
And with state tax revenues in free fall, many districts are scrambling to find money for necessities such as added nurses, personal protective equipment and additional buses to bring students to school safely.
“The cost is going to be incredible, and where’s the money going to be?” Domenech said. “Because right now what most districts are looking at are significant cuts in their budgets.” School superintendents, he said, “are not sleeping well at night” as they struggle to confront these challenges.
Last week, tensions over school closures burst into public view when President Trump chastised Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, after Fauci told a Senate committee that he worries about the many unknown facets of the virus and how it affects children.
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