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Fully virtual school vs homeschool?

  1. DesertDreams88

    grapefruit / 4361 posts

    @gotkimchi: I think grocery stores should be doing a lot more to protect their employees as well! I'm very pro-worker's rights, etc. I hope at least you can have a plexiglass slider installed and access to n95s since you are a healthcare worker of sorts. It would be also great if your pharmacy would create signage and brochures showing people how to get prescriptions online through services like OptumRx. All workplaces need to take common-sense measures.

  2. petitenoisette

    pear / 1521 posts

    @gotkimchi: you probably have a working ventilation system though, right? Your customers are also just there briefly and like @DesertDreams88: pointed out can be encouraged to get their prescriptions in a safer way. I am NOT trying to downplay the fact that you feel unsafe, but just point out the differences.

    I have no ventilation to speak of and my windows don’t work (tho Ive realized I‘ll just force them open for the year and we’ll just be cold in the winter). During a normal day I have at least 100 different students in my classroom for an hour at time (this clearly will be different; thankfully my state is taking this seriously). My students are older but I have no idea the type of compliance we’ll get from them and obs how do you disinfect 6 times a day? Never thought I’d go from school shooting training to now pandemic prevention...

    To address OP, my kid will need to go to K Whatever they offer, but even if we’re all home I will be super grateful for whatever online stuff the district does because that’s just one thing off my plate to plan. I have the same concern about the amount of online direct instruction, so I have no problem limiting what my child attends if it’s too much for her. It will all be new for us so we’ll have to see.

  3. DesertDreams88

    grapefruit / 4361 posts

    @petitenoisette: ugh yes I forgot to describe the situation from a high school perspective.... if schools were to "go back like normal" that would mean 2000 students in the building, no cohorts truly possible, exposure of about 150 students a day mixing with 1850 others regularly.... I truly think that most high school is going to be online next year because that is the age group that is impossible to cohort AND can mostly be trusted to be home alone, AND has the motivation of "earning credits" in order to pass.

    I'm sorry to the OP about thread-jacking. As a K-12 teacher married to a K-12 teacher, my head and heart are just swimming. My kids are babysat by my older in-laws so that's a different complication.

    If I had a child *becoming* a kindergartner in this scenario, I would not send him/her if the school setting was highly restrictive; because I wouldn't want to risk their views / attitude towards school for the rest of K-12. I *personally* would ask my friends to see if any of them would babysit him or homeschool him for $$ (thankfully, I have LOTS of SAHM friends and homeschooling friends.) If I had a older kid... I'd try to enroll them in my school and say I need a synchronous schedule with my child. I know that's not an option for most others - if I was in a job that could be remote, I'd push for that, or I'd take the new FMLA leave childcare option if available. I have even thought about taking a leave of absence but financially couldn't swing that without credit card debt.

    It's a new world... hopefully a temporary one.

  4. gotkimchi

    nectarine / 2400 posts

    @DesertDreams88: our workplace is less common sense measures and more bottom line measures. @petitenoisette: it seems like our schools are smaller here and that is a huge difference as well - our high school is about 800 and I can see if the schools were larger and more crowded how the problem is exponential

  5. bhbee

    cantaloupe / 6086 posts

    @DesertDreams88: no worries on thread jacking! It’s all relevant and I’m constantly down the rabbit hole.

    “Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath has determined it will be safe for students to return to their campuses this fall. School districts will not be required to mandate students wear masks or test them for COVID-19 symptoms, confirmed Frank Ward, a spokesperson for the Texas Education Agency”

    I have zero clue how they’re making the determination on safety when our conditions are worsening?? (Not everywhere - but certainly in the big metro areas)

    I’m pretty sure from what’s been said our district is going to drop a hybrid option, and I am so not sure how to feel about that when there’s not enough room to distance with a full class. I hope they enforce masking at least, we haven’t heard details yet.

    What is it going to be like to be the school nurse next year? How are they going to handle deciding if kids need to go home or quarantine at home or what?

    Sorry for the rambling, so many questions with no good answers.

  6. 2littlepumpkins

    grapefruit / 4455 posts

    @DesertDreams88: I think that is sad, but also not unexpected for a pandemic response that those type of guidelines would be posted. I think the numbers for who wants to go back versus not would be different by school/region, and I wish there was more flexibility allowed to accommodate that. Also I don't think there are any great options.

    @gotkimchi: Yeah I guess that's where my response comes from too. I just don't think there are great options. I have asthma and am working outside the home a couple days a week although not much public contact at this point. We will be returning to being open to the public in an area with very high cases and fatalities (I know several of my clients have been hospitalized, one died that I know for sure was of covid) but staying closed to the public indefinitely is just not an option. My husband and I are both designated emergency response workers as well (i.e., not eligible for the family leave), and me working in the shelters is not out of the realm of possibility, among other things. But yeah, it's just stuff we have to take care of at this point.

  7. LemonJack

    persimmon / 1130 posts

    Bear with me as this is long.

    @Mrs. Carrot: Thank you for speaking up. And I wish I could say I was surprised at the callousness you witnessed, but I’m not. It does make me wonder what planet these people are on though. There are huge teacher shortages everywhere, so just dismissing it by saying teachers can not come back if they’re concerned doesn’t answer the question of how they could possibly fill those empty positions. They couldn’t.

    I’m hoping if we go back it’s in a hybrid model. That’s the only way I can currently visualize it being done safely. It brings up another massive issue (childcare), which is a headache for many, including me. I wish it were easier.

    @2littlepumpkins: I agree virtual school isn’t ideal. I was trying to teach while also homeschooling my kindergartener and watching my 2 year old and small infant. So I get it. But I am distressed by the dismissiveness I’ve seen (not from you, just in general) regarding teachers’ very valid concerns. I would prefer to be in school, and so would almost all of my colleagues, but I also feel like I need to know the following:

    1. How social distancing can realistically happen, especially if schools refuse a hybrid model
    2. What procedures will be in place for sanitizing
    3. How they will deal with teacher shortages
    4. What the plan is for subs (severe sub shortage)
    5. What procedures they’ll have in place to cover classes without a sub
    6. What is expected regarding in person and virtual teaching/planning

    I’ve seen many plans for social distancing and sanitizing, at least with a hybrid model, but haven’t seen much of anything regarding staff/sub shortages which will be a huge issue. That needs to be planned for before schools reopen or all of the other safeguards will go out the window when dealing with multiple absences.

    To give you an idea of the concerns with staffing shortages, during a regular flu season, it’s not uncommon to have days where my building is missing 3-4 teachers without a sub. So, what happens is that teachers have to give up their prep periods to cover (if they can), but if they can’t, then teachers have to double up classes. That means you’ve got approximately 50 kids in a room together, sharing chairs, sitting on the floor, basically wherever they can fit. Social distancing isn’t possible in those situations, and at my level (middle school) the kids will be in the room together for 45-80 minutes, depending on the class period. When my kindergartener’s teacher was out without a sub last year, my daughter was in another teacher’s room all day. So in that case, all those extra little bodies were together for hours. This is one of my biggest concerns if districts try to go back normally.

    The above scenario is something that been happening more often over the last few years as our sub shortage has grown. Now, imagine next year. I suspect more teachers will be out due to both precaution and potentially real illness. In a typical year this would already be really bad because of the existing sub shortage, but it will be even worse this year because it’s likely a lot of subs will choose not to work. I’d estimate that 30-50% of our regular subs are retired teachers. I’m guessing most of them will opt not to work due to their risk, since most of them are doing it to keep busy, not because they need the income. So, now we have even less subs to pull from, which means classes will be combined even more often out of necessity. Those are very real issues that aren’t unique to my district or state, and they need to be rectified before schools can safely go back into session.

    One way to help alleviate this shortage might be to hire a few full time substitutes to work at each building every day. They could cover when teachers are out without a sub. Sounds great in theory, but where does that money come from? Schools can’t afford to hire all these full time staff members, especially because many states are actually in the process of cutting more funding to schools because of Covid.

    As far as other places opening back up, I agree there are a lot of issues all around. However, I think one thing to keep in mind is that like others have said, teachers are up close and personal with kids for hours every day, and kids are notoriously unable to keep their hands to themselves. I work with middle schoolers, and even at that level they can’t stop touching each other, although I *hope* it would be better in this scenario.

    I think some people hear teachers’ concerns about reopening schools and view it as teachers not wanting to return. I don’t think that’s the case. We want to return if we can be assured that it can be done safely, and so far we aren’t seeing that. How in the world can we implement all these necessary safety procedures (busing issues alone are $$$) while education budgets are being slashed? I’m genuinely asking. Are people willing to actually give us the funding we need to make this happen safely? Unfortunately I’m not optimistic about that.

    I suspect our district will probably have a hybrid model, and I feel safer with that because I can see us being able to make social distancing actually work. When I hear about districts trying to push forward and open normally I think that’s incredibly irresponsible.

  8. Chuckles

    persimmon / 1495 posts

    One other issue to point out with all this is that schools will (I think) have to also provide some sort of virtual option to students who are medically fragile or immune compromised. It's more kids than you might think. Who will teach those students? I really don't know what will happen in the fall here, but for me it just underlines that, as with everything in education, the people making the decisions either have never been teachers or are so far removed from teaching that they can't/ don't know the real impact all this will have on teachers, students, and learning. Maybe other teachers can comment on this, but it may be the source of some of our frustration and anxiety and the feeling that this job is different than some others that also have higher risks.
    ETA: I realize that many people are in jobs where they need to go back to work and have distant people making decisions that may not feel safe or make you feel not valued. But for teachers, every year and sometimes every month we are subject to the different whims of a whole lot of groups that have no or very little experience actually doing our jobs. It's just a cumulative thing.

  9. Jess1483

    nectarine / 2641 posts

    @Chuckles: I know in my district, they are aiming to have one teacher at each grade level and school (presumably those with medical concerns) do full-time remote (obviously, there will have to be grade shuffling to pull this off, since there might be 2 in K and none in 4th, for example).. The other teachers would have a reduced class size, and we are likely to have kids only going 2 days/week. Our schools are small (generally, most grade levels in a school have 3-5 teachers.)

    I agree that the decision makers are not teachers, and that's a problem here and in pretty much every facet of education.

  10. LemonJack

    persimmon / 1130 posts

    @Chuckles: I’ve had the same concerns.

    @Jess1483: I think this is a really smart solution and makes a lot of sense for districts that can pull it off.

  11. Chuckles

    persimmon / 1495 posts

    @Jess1483: that might work in elementary school but will much harder to accomplish well in middle school or high school. I wonder if teachers will have students log in remotely to synchronous teaching that they are doing with other students physically present.

  12. DesertDreams88

    grapefruit / 4361 posts

    @LemonJack: i don't have time to do such an amazing summary like you did, but I just want to say to others that I echo everything you said from my perspective as a teacher in Phoenix, and I'm talking about lots of districts here.

    1800 classes left unstaffed by a certified teacher *every year* across the state. 21 times in 27 weeks last year we had to split up kids due to lack of subs and I had classes of 45. It's no joke. 50% average sub fill rate across the district, affecting 10,000 kids. I have more data but it's at school.

    Also here in AZ, hybrid schooling won't be funded. Only 100% in person or 100% virtual, per student.

  13. LemonJack

    persimmon / 1130 posts

    @DesertDreams88: Those statistics are horrifying. I’m fortunate that I’m in a relatively well funded district, so we aren’t doubling up on classes nearly as often as it sounds like you are, but it happens often enough that it’s a major concern I have going into next year. And, I know it’s obviously happening with much greater frequency in a lot of other places.

  14. MrsSRS

    nectarine / 2987 posts

    I'm back teaching preschool full time now. But this fall I have a rising kinder and second grader. Online schooling wasn't great for my eldest, but we are changing schools and a different system could be better. I'm going to wait to make a call because it really depends on what the online choice looks like. But if school is 100% online I will probably homeschool both of my kids. I have experience teaching both Pre-K and early elementary so I'm in a bit of a unique position. However, this would require me to change careers immediately since there's no way I can be in my classroom and care for my children at the same time as a single parent. I'm exhausted.


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