CPS IN PERSON
CPS IN PERSON
We write as parents of CPS students to ask that all teachers and staff who are medically able, vaccinated and not interacting with high-risk individuals please return to the classroom for in-person teaching.
We acknowledge that the past two years have been extremely challenging for teachers – as well as students and their parents. We are proud of and impressed by how we have collectively borne this strain, which speaks to the endurance and resilience of our community. The recent wave of the Omicron-variant COVID strain presents the latest in a series of tests, but over the last two years, we have developed tools to help us overcome. We now have several effective vaccines, and most recently, the FDA has approved a drug to treat COVID. In light of these developments, we are asking our teachers to continue in-person education.
We know that remote learning disadvantages our students. It was a necessary sacrifice during the uncertain beginning of the pandemic, but we need not make that sacrifice now. Studies show that students who study remotely suffer socially, emotionally and academically (Duckworth et al., 2021). While most standardized testing has been put on hold, preventing us from truly understanding the impact of remote models of teaching on student success, statistics presented in a congress report from the US and abroad show that students have not been making the kind of academic gains they normally do over the course of a year during this pandemic, especially in mathematics (CRS Report R46883, 2021). Those studies carried out on remote education pre-pandemic overwhelmingly find that students who study remotely progress behind their peers in in-person education (Ahn and McEachin, 2017 and Woodworth et al., 2015).
The setbacks produced by remote learning especially disadvantage our most vulnerable students. Students who need extra attention due to language barriers or learning disabilities are particularly at risk (CRS Report). Those parents who have extra time and resources to devote to their children’s education may be able to mitigate some of the harm, but not all families have such luxuries. Students without easy access to internet have an extra burden placed on their access to education, and those without high-speed internet experience their education with delay and disruption. Finally, as indicated in the Duckworth et al. study, remote learning isolates students, cutting them off from important social and emotion resources at a crucial juncture in their social and emotional development. Early findings indicate high school age children are experiencing mental health crises at higher rates during the pandemic– now is not the time to be cutting them off from the important resources in-person education provides. Our students’ education has been disrupted in many ways over the course of pandemic, and the best way to get back on track is through in-person learning in the classroom.
Studies aside, we also know that remote learning fails our students by observing with our own eyes. We have seen upsetting changes in our own children and in our friends’ and our neighbors’ children.
We know the challenges that have been reported to us by you – our faculty and staff – since return to school; you have told us that the students are different; they need to be retrained socially and academically; that misbehavior has increased; that too many students have fallen behind and need help – all directly attributable to deprivation of social interaction and learning from the last two years.
Remote learning was a necessary sacrifice early in the pandemic, but our circumstances have undoubtedly changed. The CDC’s official guidelines have evolved to reflect these changes. In light of our increasingly vaccinated population, the CDC has announced that fully-vaccinated individuals need not quarantine after an exposure. As the medical professionals have learned more about the nature of COVID-19 contagion, they have shortened the isolation and quarantine periods required for un-vaccinated, exposed individuals and those who are infected with COVID. These developments reflect our increased understanding and preparedness to combat the spread of the disease and our increased ability to treat the disease and bring about positive health outcomes to those infected. They also make in-person education more feasible by cutting down on student and teacher absences due to COVID exposure. Throughout this pandemic, we have balanced protecting the health of our teachers and ensuring the best possible educational outcome for our students. This is why teachers were among the first eligible for the vaccine and the booster. As we enter this new phase of the pandemic, we have the resources we need for in-person education.
We understand not everyone is equally impacted by the virus and support one-off exemptions for teachers or students who live with someone, or who are themselves, particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
We trust that we can find a way to protect these individuals from the threat of COVID without further harming the rest of our student through continued on-line only education.