ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — New York state has not yet decided just how public schools will reopen this year.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says districts must submit plans for children to return to the classroom in the fall, but what that will look like amid the pandemic is not yet clear.
As the current school year winds down, questions remain about the future of K-12 education and what schooling will look like.
“There is going to be, I predict, some reliance on virtual learning,” said Dr. Joellen Maples, Interim Dean of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. School of Education at St. John Fisher College. “I don’t know how we escape that at this point.”
Distance learning is different than traditional classroom instruction, of course, but the consensus is that successful teaches in the era of coronavirus will be able to embrace technology going forward.
“We can do far mar if we integrate both face-to-face technology, but smartly,” said Dr. Kristen Diskill, Roberts Wesleyan College Department of Teacher Education Chair. “Not using it to say ‘we offer distance learning,’ but really matching up with the students and the purpose with the technology.”
Districts face numerous challenges with distancing — in the classroom, the cafeteria, on the bus, the stage, and athletic fields.
Possible solutions include a hybrid approach, with some students at home and others in class on certain days, eating lunch at a desk, spacing one seat apart on buses, and fielding only individual sports like cross-country or golf.
“I know people think school is reading, writing, and arithmetic, but to your credit it is so much more,” said Dr. Maples. “It is that socialization piece, it’s developing the arts, developing your athletics.”
Experts say superintendents must put safety first and then decide the best way to educate students.
“No matter what, we have to meet every student where they’re at,” said Dr. Driskill.
“I would definitely ask them to prioritize technology and the training of teachers,” said Dr. Maples.
Students have their own challenges when it comes to distance learning.
“I mean there’s an equity issue,” said Dr. Driskill. “Not every student has the technology, not every student has wi-fi, and not every student has a home life conducive to learning.”
The choices made now will have a lasting impact on students and the future of education.