Why Plan A Is the Only Option for the 2020-2021 School Year

Why Plan A Is the Only Option for the 2020-2021 School Year

0 have signed. Let’s get to 100!
At 100 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!
Nancy Laffey started this petition to Mark Johnson North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction

The school opening options that are being discussed ahead of July 1 are:

  • Plan A: School facilities are open and all students are present at the same time with enhanced health protocols.
  • Plan B: School facilities are open but limited to no greater than 50% maximum occupancy with enhanced protocols and increased social distancing.
  • Plan C: No students in school facilities with remote learning for all students

These plans will go into effect based on the direction the school districts receive from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

Despite the enormous impact school plans have on North Carolina’s families and economic recovery, very little media coverage has been given to the issue. Given how unacceptable Plans B and C are, I can see why public officials are hoping it remains that way.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average of families with two working parents is 61.1%. That means over half the families in any given school district may rely on school to provide necessary childcare to allow parents to work. If schools do not open at all, or only open at 50% capacity, what are working families supposed to do? How is the state of North Carolina going to get back on its feet economically if parents remain at home taking care of school-age children?

In addition to the impact Plans B and C have on parents’ ability to work, there are other problems with Plans B and C. The first one is its one-size fits all approach. All students, whether they be 6- or 16-years-old, are to be taught using virtual methods. This is despite the lack of success demonstrated with this method in the last 4 months and the lack of evidence that virtual learning is effective with young learners. While it may be acceptable for a high school student to acquire and demonstrate learning virtually, there are few parents that agree that this method works for a pre-school or elementary school student. Few parents are equipped to oversee their children’s education. Many do not have a home setting appropriate for the facilitation of learning, e.g., young children in the home, parents working at home, lack of manipulatives and other educational tools. Online learning may be a resource for some students, but younger children need personal interaction with an instructor, connection with their peers, and the ability to touch, see, say, and hear educational matter to truly master content.

That leads to another issue with Plans B and C: accountability. After speaking with teachers at my daughter’s school, I discovered that only about half of the students had participated in any of the online learning activities, despite the mass distribution of laptops. The school has no way to control what occurs at home and therefore no way to ensure a child makes educational progress. If a percentage of students do not participate in in-home learning, this exacerbates grade-level gaps in knowledge and skills. Over time, these gaps will grow, leaving large populations of students without a basic education. Then North Carolina will be grappling with ballooning consequences of limited education: crime and poverty.

For all of the reasons stated above, Plan A is the only option for the schools, at least at the pre-school and elementary level. However, it is going to require what most states have not wanted to do: put money into education. Given the wealth of stimulus money pouring out of the Federal government, this does not seem hard to do. Stimulus money used to ensure parents can work and children continue to grow to sustain a future work force seems like a slam dunk. But if Federal money is not available, the state and districts are going to need to get creative to implement Plan A. With true dedication to the success of families and children, Plan A can, and must, happen. 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 100!
At 100 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!