Across the world, schools have had to adjust to what is now called distance learning. This year students were uprooted from their desks and their traditional learning environments taught at home through video calling and online work assessment due to a virus that we were unprepared for. So what does this mean for future learning?
Many have said the virus would change the way we live and even change us as a human race, but in what ways will these changes take place? With the start of the virus, we have realized an almost new way of life. Jobs that many thought would be impossible to do online have changed to remote tactics, and many are seeing success. For others, it has made them realize and appreciate the smaller things in life. But when things like life-changing events are mentioned and said that life will never be the same, it gets many to realize that they are talking about something more profound; they are talking about how we live, our daily habits, and our norms. For the school systems, that means parents, teachers, and students have all adapted to this new norm, and many believe that schools, as we knew them, may not go back to how they used to before the virus.
Like with Hurricane Katrina, many will know life much like the victims did, the before and the after. We will now be living in a post-virus world. In the book “Charter School City,” author Douglas N. Harris discusses how after the effects of Katrina, the entire city of New Orleans shifted to cyber charter schools to help students make sure that they were still getting a good education. While schools probably will not go to being completely online, there will be many aspects that change.
So how will this change to our everyday lives change how we go back to schools in the fall while still protecting kids from the spread of coronavirus? School officials in South Carolina have discussed different proposals such as:
- Preventing or even limiting volunteers that come into the schools
- Transitioning students from eating in the cafeteria to eating their lunches in the classrooms
- Practicing social distancing on the buses
- Teachers changing classes instead of the students
- Breaking up recesses, so there are fewer students outside at one given time
- High school students would move to semester style teaching where they would have 90-minute classes reducing the time that the students are in the hallways.
However, the issue remains that if students were to practice social distancing while riding the school bus, the busses would only be able to hold about 17% of their capacity if kept at a 6-foot range. Many believe that the school busses would just become a breeding ground for the virus. Many teachers and parents are worried about the safety of their children. While many prefer that distance learning continues a study found by S.C. The Department of Education found that about 150,000 households did not have access to the internet.
While that may be the case for South Carolina, schools in Florida are leading the nation in ways of both quickly and efficiently reopen in the fall proposing portable classrooms, using a mix of online and on-campus teaching. Florida is also working to ensure that schools plan accordingly, so they mesh with parents’ schedules going back to work. Going back to school will be an adjustment, and many are working quickly while still trying to make it as efficient and as safe as possible.
Dr. Catherine Barnes is a Jacksonville, Florida-based educator with over 25 years of experience. A graduate of the University of Florida, Dr. Barnes forms her educational philosophy around the belief that “kids deserve a fighting chance—even if you have to fight to give it to them.” She understands that, by adapting to modern students’ needs, today’s teachers can change the trajectory of a child’s life, and has allowed her to continuously embody success and vision in her field.