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The Best Way to Return to In-Person Learning

By Franklin Schargel

The closing of schools and the switching to either hybrid or distance computer learning has had a greater impact on some students more than others. Not every teacher or student needs to return to in-person learning. States and districts need to prioritize those who are most impacted by bringing them back to school as long as there are sufficient numbers of teachers available. The most affected students include those most vulnerable:

• Special Educated

• Low income

• Children of color

• Native American

• Those with unstable internet

• Those without devices such as iPads or Chromebooks

• Those entering kindergarten or first grade (According to USA Today, on average 16 percent fewer attended than in 2019 – 2020)

• Those entering new schools (middle or high school)

• Those scheduled to graduate in 2020 or 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new guidelines for the reopening of schools. Those guidelines include:

• That guidance calls for states to ease restrictions in a phased approach only after ensuring they have adequate testing, tracing, and hospital surge capacity and only after they’ve seen declining rates of the virus for 14 consecutive days.

• Schools have provided healthy hygiene practices, including handwashing stations, adequate disinfecting

• Social distancing in classrooms and on school buses

• The wearing of masks

• (Go to CDC.gov for a complete list)

Educators know that in-person learning achieves greater impact than distance or hybrid learning. But teachers are fearful about bringing the virus home to their children or families. The American Federation of Teachers poll found that 71 percent of educators worry that they might get infected and bring home the virus to their families and children. But Education Week (2/22/2021) says that only 30 states have prioritized teachers to receive the vaccine.  

According to the American Federation of Teachers, 85 percent of AFT teachers and school staff support a return to in-person learning as long as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines are followed.

The Biden Administration needs to provide resources to states and fund vaccinations, which have borne the brunt of fighting the virus.

About the Author

Franklin P. Schargel is a former classroom teacher, school counselor, and school administrator who successfully designed, developed, and helped implement a process that dramatically increased parental engagement, increased post-secondary school attendance, and significantly lowered his Title 1 high school dropout rate. The U.S. Department of Education, Business Week, Fortune Magazine, National Public Radio (NPR), the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), and The New York Times have recognized his work. In addition, Schargel served as the Education Division Chair of the American Society for Quality and helped develop the National Quality Award, the Malcolm Baldridge Award for Education.

Schargel is an internationally recognized speaker, trainer and author of thirteen best-selling books. His last published book: “Creating Safe Schools: A Guide for School Leaders, Classroom Teachers, Counselors and Parents” has been published internationally by Francis and Taylor, LLC. In addition, he has written over 100 published articles dealing with school reform. His most recent book, Who Will Teach the Children? Recruiting, Retaining & Refreshing Highly Effective Educators is available through Amazon.

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