Re: “For many Seattle elementary students, Monday marks the first day back to school in person” [April 5, Education Lab] and “Seattle school district, teachers union reach deal to expand in-person learning for middle and high school students” [April 1, Education]:
Teachers and families are finding out the reality of Seattle Public Schools’ “return to school.” Teachers cannot get within six feet of students. All work continues to be on the computer. Teachers support students in-person and remotely at the same time. Very little is gained. What is lost?
We lose time for meaningful check-ins. I can do 20- to 30-minute meetings with students remotely because we can truly meet one-on-one, and build honest and compassionate connections. Now those meetings will be in front of an audience because I will be sitting in a classroom with other students six feet away.
We lose focus on individual students’ well-being. For the past year, I have only had to worry about how students are faring at home and how they understand class. Now I must carry the weight of ensuring coronavirus safety. I worry about the experiences of students who are Black, Indigenous and people of color with this extra level of monitoring by school staff. We know that BIPOC students are disproportionately disciplined due to racial bias. We have no reason to think that more and new rules will play out any differently.
Where are the mental-health benefits for our kids?
Stefanie Skiljan, Seattle, Seattle Public Schools teacher, Franklin High School