Should your kids return to school?

Assuming we are not locked in on a second statewide lockdown this fall–and you can’t rule it out–what would you do?

Send you kids back to school and keep your fingers crossed or keep them home, knowing that their education may suffer, but at least they will be less likely to get the virus?

If you are addressing that question as a parent for the first time, you are in the minority because lots of moms and dads and guardians have already registered their opinions with various educational groups.

The CEO of the state school board association has seen surveys showing the number of families opting for Plan B is anywhere between 10% and 30%.

“Wow. That’s a high number reflects the president of the State Board of Education.

Dr. Casandra Ulbrich, upon further reflections, admits she does understand where those adults are coming from. The fear of the unknown is a great human behavior modifier.

Another survey had the number at 33% and still another in Houston clocked in at 50%.

But check this out. Baby docs in Michigan are all in on having all kids all in school in the fall.

“We support in-person education to the maximum extent possible,” the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics opines in an advisory email. It notes that sitting in front of a teacher is preferable to sitting in front of a laptop and “in our offices we have seen large disparities in available at home learning support…which increase the achievement gap” between the have and the have not’s.

To hammer home their point, they point to in-school mental and public health services for kids, not to mention healthy regular meals, therapy for special needs children, English classes for foreign language students, and so forth. Needless to say at home kids don’t get any of that stuff.

Plus the baby docs feel the risk of your elementary school kid contracting or spreading the disease is pretty low. “They are less likely to be primary vectors for the spread,” they try to reassure nervous parents.

Predicated on those assertions, a parent on the fence might be willing to take the chance but in many cases parents will demonstrate this notion, “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made-up.”

But even if parents decide to take the chance, there’s another question being asked.

“Will I go back to school in the fall?”

And asking that inquiry are the teachers themselves.

The Michigan Education Association got 15,000 of its 100,000 plus membership to return a survey and the union found 2% who are leaving, 12% considering leaving, 5% will retire earlier than expected, 12% are thinking about early retirement and 1% will retire.

That “ouch” you heard was from school administrators and the unions who figure, at this critical point in time, you want all the experienced hands on deck (in the classroom) that you can field. But if 30% jump ship, you’ll have nervous young kids sitting in seats with a nervous inexperienced teacher at the front of the room trying to navigate these virus infested waters with the equally unsettled parents at home wondering if this is all worth it?

If there is a silver lining in any of this, the SBE president Dr. Ulbrich notes that years ago there were those suggesting that Internet learning was the wave of the future as it was cost effective and more efficient. She is looking at data from the past four months suggesting that learning at home does not compare to learning in person even if the kid has a lap top.

“You can’t replace interaction between teacher and pupil,” she contends as she puts in the good word for in-seat education.

However, when the bell rings, will there be any teachers or pupils inside the building to prove her hypothesis?


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