Schools in the greater Washington area and across the U.S. have slowly started the process of reopening their doors to eager students and educators. And while this process will undoubtedly undergo both ebbs and flows because of the challenges that remain prevalent due to the coronavirus, we believe that not even a virus will be able to keep classrooms closed for much longer.
Still, the configuration of our schools and classrooms may look markedly different from versions with which older Americans are more accustomed. Some students will find themselves attending school once or twice a week with portions of their educated being supplemented by Zoom calls or lectures videotaped for later reference on their computers.
In fact, in his efforts to clarify how public schools will now qualify for federal funding, President Biden recently indicated that a school must only hold in-class learning once a week to be labeled as “open.” Of course, many educators, parents and teachers have great reservations about saying school is “open” when being open doesn’t translate to five days a week of in-person instruction.
That’s another issue.
Nonetheless, COVID-19 has forced us to reconsider how education can best be facilitated — not only as we consider health concerns but ensuring that all students receive a quality education.
And while the safety and health of educators and students cannot and will not be overlooked or minimized, we feel it necessary to return the spotlight to the quality of education that youth will receive.
Less than a century ago, many Blacks still did not know how to read. Blacks were routinely denied admittance to the nation’s top colleges and universities. Blacks could not attend schools in many parts of the U.S. because of laws that allowed for segregation. And so, we fought against these various means of injustice — through political, religious and social means. As the story goes, victory would be ours — but not before generations of protests.
Education has long been recognized as the best means of leveling the playing field in America. And whether classrooms shift to hybrid versions of instruction or not, education and the benefits and opportunities it provides for those who “learn their lesson” have not changed — even in our new COVID-19-influenced world.
Maybe the real challenge many parents face is that they can no longer send their children and grandchildren to school so the “babysitter” can take over.
Now, the adults in the lives of school-age children must bear more of the burden in the daily education of their children. It can be a daunting proposition for some but so be it. It’s the new reality we all face.
Let’s get busy!