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School Year 2020 vs CoVid-19, Are We Ready?

School year 2020

School year 2020 is about to look dramatically different than it has in years past as communities across the country grapple with the best path forward. With the COVID-19 pandemic having taken close to 175,000 lives nationally and continuing to infect over 40,000 people daily for about two months in a row, it’s become clear that there is no foreseeable future without the virus looming over every aspect of our lives. While bars have been lamented as places for exponential spread, efforts to educate students in person across the country are quickly unraveling. Major outbreaks originating at schools in states such as Georgia – which began their school year a few weeks back – have districts across the country re-examining their hopes for in-person instruction.

Limited testing capacity and the high costs of any testing mechanism that delivers rapid results – which are key to targeting cases and stopping the spread of COVID-19 – are hamstringing hopes for in-person instruction. Teachers of varying levels of risk have largely favored the virtual approach, mirroring trends across the country. School districts such as Virginia’s Fairfax County School District plan to review their plan for pivoting to either a partial or full in-person model of instruction at the end of the first quarter. So what might the first few months of school bring to the bedrooms of students across the county?

Access and equity are among the chief concerns for Fairfax County School District, according to their website, and reflect many of the efforts unfolding nationwide Their return to school plan is working diligently to right the wrongs of the first go at virtual instruction – where many were left without access to tech and thus received a lower quality education. Replicating as much normalcy as possible is believed to be the key to success in the fall. Students will receive virtual instruction every weekday, with Monday serving as an opportunity for independent learning and the rest of the week featuring live face-to-face instruction. Across grades, all work will be graded, and attendance will be mandatory. At the elementary level, students will receive additional small group instruction and intervention support to provide additional aid. Middle and high school students will follow an A/B block schedule. Each individual school has a bit of leeway to craft their own rules regarding how to conduct virtual instruction, and visiting their individual sites and platforms is necessary to gain a better understanding of the particularities.

While school year 2020 is poised to be the largest ever experiment in virtual instruction, online tutoring options have seen a major boost as well. Online tutoring offers families an additional layer of instructional support that can help students gain the most out of their time working from their homes. Many online tutoring options can be tailored to the specific content a child is presently learning, and online tutoring can supplement the reinforcement of skills they’d normally be receiving in person.