Home > Uncategorized > NPR’s Anya Kamenetz Forecasts 9 Changes in Public Schools… and they are Right On!

NPR’s Anya Kamenetz Forecasts 9 Changes in Public Schools… and they are Right On!

April 26, 2020

Of all the education writers, I find Anya Kamenetz to be the most insightful and her NPR article with the click-bait title “9 Ways Schools Will Look Different When (And If) They Reopen” offers some nuanced changes as well as some obvious ones.

The obvious changes are that schools will focus on hygiene, will have smaller class sizes, operate on shifts and under a different calendar, and avoid large gatherings or any events that invite the public (including parents) into facilities.

A more subtle idea is that the schools might open first for the youngest children because they are the ones losing the most from remote learning. Ms. Kamenetz notes that schools in Europe are following this pattern and that densely populated cities could do this since most elementary schools are within walking distance of children’s homes.

One element of the “new normal” is that distance learning will continue to play some role. Ms Kamenetz writes:

Every expert NPR spoke with predicted that the need for remote learning would continue because of staggered schedules, schools prepared to close again for future waves of infection, and many students needing remediation. And that means training and support for teachers, and equipment for children.

And that also means the digital divide will have to be addressed and, on a more meta-policy level, internet access will need to be viewed as an essential utility.

The ninth item on the list warrants a complete republication:

9. Social, emotional and practical help for kids

Developmental experts say disruption from the pandemic constitutes an “adverse childhood experience” for every American child. When schools reopen, says Virginia’s James Lane, ameliorating this trauma will be at the core of their mission.

“I also think that there is a need for us to focus on social and emotional learning for students,” Lane says, “and not only how we can provide the academic support, but how can we provide the mental health support and the wraparound supports for students when they come back, to help them recover and bring back that safety net of schools.”

Taken together, these ways schools will look different overlaps with the ideas embedded in the White Paper Reformatting New England Schools found elsewhere on this blog. MAYBE the time is ripe to consider a complete overhaul of what public education looks like.

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