When it comes to lessons from the abrupt switch to doing virtual schooling, local school districts certainly didn’t.
The Post reports that “Online learning to shrink or go away in D.C.-area schools next year”.
There’s little real news in reporting that COVID is also coming into classrooms, although thankfully with far fewer cases than in other areas. But maybe we should be surprised in the fact that “districts have been left flat-footed as they figure out how to provide quarantined students an education from home”.
When I worked in central office for the overly-large school district, this time of year (the fourth academic quarter) was when we began seriously planning for the fall. Between the approaching spring testing season and largely remote-control plans for closing schools, it was a good opportunity to look ahead.
Recently, the district superintendent presented his plan for the fall of 2021 that would have instruction “look as close to ‘pre-pandemic normal’ as possible” as the pandemic (hopefully) winds down.
School opens next Tuesday here in the overly-large school district. As they were last spring, students and teachers will be working in virtual classrooms, at least for the first few weeks.1
Some are calling this “online learning 2.0”. Actually it’s more like online schooling 1.1. A bug-fix rather than a major upgrade.
Almost from the start of the chaotic, but necessary, shift to online schooling last spring, articles started appearing about the amount of learning that students were going to miss. Including several studies claiming to “estimate the size of the learning loss students have experienced under such conditions”, although they didn’t make clear where researchers obtained meaningful data to arrive at their conclusions.
As students head back to school, still mostly online, we have even more stories about students falling behind, including one British study predicting that “lost school time will hurt economy for 65 years”. Again with few details about how they obtained their “huge base of evidence”.
However, there are a few things to keep in mind while reading these reports.