While all of us want schools to reopen safely this fall, there is as of yet no guarantee. Do you have a plan for the unexpected?
The first 6 months of 2020 have been extremely difficult for education and those of us who have students in our local school systems.
As a former educator I watched this past spring as teachers were all of a sudden required to become online education experts. Transforming lessons, communicating with students and parents constantly, and re-thinking how to differentiate their instruction so that all their students could be well-served overshadowed the care of their own families and even their own selves.
Similarly, I and thousands of other parents were forced overnight to both manage our students' multiple levels of education as well as our careers amid our regular home keeping responsibilities. Additionally we had to manage the expectations of our kids, our companies, our spouses and even ourselves, causing further drain on an already stressed family scenario.
No one I think wants to go back to that, but, I fear, we may not have a choice. At the very least, school may not look the same this fall and we all will need to adjust our daily lives to accommodate the necessary changes.
Instead of wondering and discussing possibilities and hoping things are ok, I believe now is the time to create contingency plans.
Best Case Scenario
The best case scenario for all of us is that Covid-19 cases will drop dramatically and school busses, mass transportation, carpools, sports, and school can all resume as normal. What will it take for this to happen? Most of the talking heads agree that masks, social distancing, and staying home as much as possible now will help. Additionally though, we would all need to limit attending bars and restaurants and having house parties or otherwise socializing in groups at home and in our communities. Staying away from parks, the beach, rivers and lakes, community pools, and tubing and boating, all those fun summertime recreation activities we all look forward to, will also help.
The only problem is that we ALL have to do this.
I can't see that happening, can you?
What it Will Most Likely Look Like
What it looks like today is that we will experience some type of hybrid how-to-keep-everyone-safe-but-also-support-those-who-have-to-go-to-work school-day scenario that will most likely vary from school district to school district. Sports are definitely in question as well as the traditional school week and day. Questions like: "Do we have an A/B schedule and split the kids so there's enough social distancing?" "How do we keep 1st graders from playing with their masks and not focusing on learning?" and "What happens if a teacher, student, parent, administrator, custodian, support staff, or coach tests positive?" are all racing through administrator's and school board's conversations as they work to create a workable solution to educating in a pandemic.
The problem is that no one knows for sure what to do and which pathway to follow. There are so many tangles involved in this pandemic that no one organization has a clear pathway forward. This is why I believe we each need to create our own contingency plans based on what will work best for our families in response to what may or may not be available to us in the fall.
So what do we do?
Let me start with this fact: this is a huge issue and there are no easy answers for anyone. There will not be an everyone-is-happy scenario, and most likely we will all feel some sort of disappointment no matter what the outcome. With that in mind here are two preliminary questions to consider:
How do you want to handle your students education this fall? You have options.
For those in primary through high school: What makes the most sense for your at-home students: wait and see what your local school district decides, enroll in online schooling available in your state, or choose to homeschool and work on your own schedule?
For those with college age students: What makes the most sense for your college student: enrolling (and paying that semester fee/accepting those loans) and hoping school starts in some fashion, even if virtually, researching and enrolling in other online schools/programs that may be less expensive, taking a gap year, or even avoiding college altogether?
These are all heavy questions with no easy answers. I only suggest looking at them through the lense of which option will work best for you and your family.
What changes do you need to make to support that vision?
Staying with the schools: Since no one knows what school schedules will look like in the fall, it's hard to plan here, but what would it take for you to prepare to have kids at home while you are normally at work? Would you need to negotiate different working hours at work? Tag-team with your spouse? Change jobs? Partner with neighbors and friends to share coverage (like a homepool instead of a carpool for school)?
What about having that college student live with you instead of heading off to school? Do new rules need to be established? Will you be responsible for making sure they get their work done? How will you handle a gap year? Who will be paying for all this?
If you are considering online or home schooling: There are a ton of programs available to you, which will take some time to research and determine which is the best fit for you, your children, and your family as a whole. Considerations such as budget for supplies like textbooks, workbooks, and curriculum plans, and time management issues are best planned for rather than jumped into. Other considerations can include balancing parenting and being a teacher, sharing the educational role while working, and training "classroom" behavior so everyone can get done all that needs to be completed.
As I said before, this is a huge issue and there are no easy answers. I believe starting with making a choice is what matters most and will help each of us begin to regain some of the control we have all lost.
Over the next several weeks I will be addressing this issue from multiple perspectives: Parents, Students and Educators. Sign up above to get each post and resource delivered to your inbox (free). I will not spam you or share your info.
Join the Conversation: Which option for the fall are you considering for your student at the moment?
If you are new here, I am a retired educator (public, charter, and homeschool), parent of a 20-something and a college freshman, and an Education Coach and Consultant who guides students, parents, and educators in navigating the education and career development journey through retirement. If you would like help processing the decisions you need to make about schooling in the fall, developing an action plan, or setting personal or career goals, I'd love to help. Schedule a free Discovery Call today to learn how I can help you process all you are experiencing in a healthy way.