NO FACE-TO-FACE SCHOOLING IN IUSD
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California’s two largest public school districts said on Monday that instruction would be online-only in the fall, in the latest sign that school administrators are increasingly unwilling to risk crowding students back into classrooms until the coronavirus is fully under control. Meanwhile, instruction at all IUSD schools will return on Aug. 20. Elementary school students will have the option of having in-person school, distance learning or a hybrid of the two. Middle school and high school students can choose between doing classwork 100% online or opting for a blend of in-person and distance learning.
QUESTIONS TO IUSD DECISION-MAKERS
Having watched the IUSD board meeting last night into the wee hours, we sincerely applaud your efforts. However, based on the meeting and several other forms of communication from you, there are some questions that need answers.
- You mentioned that your decision to offer options is based on science. As of today, the County of Orange has the third largest number of cases in the State of California and counting; there is no cure, no vaccine, no free and accessible testing, and not even a thorough scientific understanding of the coronavirus. You claimed that IUSD is unique in many ways, but what fundamental, scientific distinction allows you to assume that we can safely reopen our campuses whereas most of the school districts in California abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms?
- The three options offered to elementary school students – distance learning, hybrid and traditional – come with assumptions. You mentioned that based on the survey results in June, a significant number of students would opt for “distance learning only” so that the “traditional learners” would have enough rooms to spread out at least six feet apart. What will happen if all students opt for “traditional learning” – how can you ensure a safe reopening in that case?
- Throughout the presentations last night, it’s hard for a parent to overlook the drastic differences between the distance and traditional learning models. Parents who are concerned with both the effectiveness of online learning, especially for younger children, and their safety, will have no choice but to go with the “distance learning” model while the others who send their children back to school will have a more effective in-person learning experience but face a higher chance of spreading or contracting the coronavirus. In short, the offer of these options will not only fail to contain COVID-19 in schools but also segregate students based on their personal contingencies and introduce artificial inequality in their mental and physical development. In this light, how are you going to ensure that all students, whom eventually will be back to schools, are on an equal footing after participating in differing educational models?
- Following the abovementioned caveats, how can you justify the notion that the reopening of IUSD schools for “traditional learners” does not come at the expense of students who opt for “distance learning only”?
- You stated that COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation and thus your planning is flexible. In the meantime, you used survey data from a month ago at a time when both case and death counts were declining before their recent surge. Back in June, many parents selected “traditional learning” but now given the changes some are completely against it. However, we have 4 days to pick a model for our children that is going to take place in at least a month from now. How is that called flexible planning, and in what ways have you factored in the rapidly evolving safety needs of our children and staff?
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