When and how should we open schools?

MacMadame

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I'm a university professor in Hawaiʻi.
Oh, at UH? When I lived in Hawaii, I went to a gaming club every Friday night on that campus. The buildings were being eaten alive by termites to the point where the door jams were larger than the doors (which were also being eaten) in real-time while we watched! So the mold issue doesn't surprise me at all.

Not related to C19 but our apartment was down the street from the private school that Obama attended. :D
 

CantALoop

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Yup, it's a lush and beautiful campus, but that's one of the downsides of being in a rainy valley surrounded by vegetation - nature finds a way into the classroom. Your gaming club might have been in Henke Hall - it hadn't been used for years and was completely razed since the bugs infested it to the point that insect droppings were all over the place. Termites aren't the worst critter - I've encountered many a huge 3-4" B-52 cockroach at night. :yikes:

If you moved several years ago, I imagine your apartment is probably going for 1.5-2x the going price now. Anywhere near Punahou is expensive since you have both the private school families and university students vying for housing there.
 

MacMadame

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Your gaming club might have been in Henke Hall
Sound about right. I am not even sure it was used regularly when we were there -- over 30 years ago!

Our apartment was right on H1 and on a very short street completely surrounded by commercial property. It's the only reason we could afford it!

Anyway, to get back to the school's reopening issue, I have noticed in the Bay Area where I am from, there is a lot of negotiating going on between the school districts and the teachers union. Is that happening elsewhere?
 

CantALoop

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Anyway, to get back to the school's reopening issue, I have noticed in the Bay Area where I am from, there is a lot of negotiating going on between the school districts and the teachers union. Is that happening elsewhere?
Constantly in Hawai'i - although our overall case count is low, we've had 100-200 new cases per day, which is almost an order of magnitude higher than we had during the first wave. From what my friends in both K-12 faculty and administration say, they're fed up with useless Board of Education and Superintendent Zoom meetings.

The local teacher's union Board of Directors voted unanimously to start the school year 100% online.
Governor Ige agreed and all schools are starting the first quarter completely online: https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2020/...t-distance-learning-begin-public-school-year/
 
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concorde

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If your daughter is using rehab as the description, I imagine she is repeating what someone else said. I would guess, but am not certain, that drugs and/or alcohol treatment is being addressed too. People often self medicate with those substances.
My daughter thinks that alcohol was part of the equation.

We moved here about a year ago. In early fall, this girl was part of my daughter's friends group. Then my daughter started to get bad feelings about the girl so she chose to distance herself. Today my daughter told me about the "rehab" on the say home from ice skating. By the time I heard about this, it is third or fourth hand. I suspect the jest is correct but many of the details are off.

I agree that things were off for the girl for awhile. Then the lockdown happened and it pushed an unbalanced girl pretty close to the edge.
 

concorde

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Anyway, to get back to the school's reopening issue, I have noticed in the Bay Area where I am from, there is a lot of negotiating going on between the school districts and the teachers union. Is that happening elsewhere?
Pennsylvania right outside of Philly. No one is happy with the current plan so I expect it to change at least once more. Neighboring township announced a plan on 7/31 and it has since been changed.
No idea who the players are that are forcing these changes - I suspect the SD, teachers unions, and very vocal parents.

At this point, I have completed the school survey. There is nothing more I can do. I will read the emails circulated by the district and try to decipher that they mean for us. Come September 8, my daughter will go off the school in whatever form the district is offering.

The Governor has decided to let local district decide what to do.

For my son, still waiting on the private school decision. I really hope we hear this week. My daughter asked what is Plan B if he does not get in and I answered that I do not have one. Maybe Plan B is letting him stay in Florida until early October so he can continue surfing. The public school is virtual until then so it makes no difference where he takes classes.
 

Dobre

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South Carolina: SC approves Richland 2, Sumter reopening plans, 12 other districts
(Various schools plan options are listed if you down in the article)

Avon parent prepares for closures as high school shifts to e-learning

8th graders at Zionsville Middle School to do virtual learning for 2 weeks due to *********-19

Teachers union: It’s appalling that Texas leaders are ignoring health guidance to open schools

22 Mississippi schools report *********-19 cases, Dobbs says
 

MacMadame

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Dobre

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The Cherokee County School District in Georgia, which I posted about earlier, has now reported that 826 students are in quarantine due to possible exposure to *********-19. (Up from the 260 that were announced in the article I linked on Saturday).

-They've had 38 students and 12 staff test positive since August 3rd.
 

clairecloutier

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Our school committee here in Massachusetts just voted to accept our district’s plan to open the school year with grades K-3 in-person and grades 4-12 remote.

As a group, the teachers opposed the plan. The teachers’ union issued several statements in opposition, spoke against the plan at the meeting, and their rep on the committee voted against it tonight.

It seems the decision was driven in large part by equity concerns. Our district has many low-income and ESL families. It was felt that many kids simply couldn’t get by without the practical/emotional support at school and that the danger of early learners being left behind by remote learning was too great a risk to take. At least, that’s what they said.

Meanwhile, the public charter school in town, which my kids are signed up for, has changed its plan. They had wanted to start out in hybrid format. Now they are opting for all-remote to start the year, with the intent to monitor the situation weekly and start moving to the hybrid model, grade by grade, as soon as possible. Goal is to have grades 6-9 in hybrid by mid-November, but it will depend on current conditions. This plan goes up for vote to their board tomorrow night.
 

Theatregirl1122

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I continue to not understand the idea that they will be able to start moving towards hybrid format. I think it will get worse as time goes on, not better. I think if you start remote, you're remote through the fall.
 

CantALoop

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They are fighting here over the details of what that means. How many hours a week in person online, how much training they will get, etc.
Yeah, I wouldn't want to be on any accreditation board for the next few years - it'll be a nightmare to figure out how many instructional hours students actually got. At least locally here in Hawai'i, nearly half of middle & high school teachers said they saw fewer than 1 in 5 of their students participating regularly in distance learning.

I agree with the NYT article saying that the summer was wasted arguing about plans to reopen - when it's only a week or two before schools open, it's too late to talk about training and workshops and certificates.

If I were in charge, I'd be looking into hiring IT people to convert in-person lesson plans, upload materials to LMSes, and do everything to help teachers who need help moving their classes online. I'd also look into hiring local graduate students as exam readers or TAs to help with the management and grading of assessments as well.

IMHO all the talk about "triggers" to close and conditional if situation "X", then we do "Y" plans are doomed to fail. One of the worst things about this whole damn ********* is how everything is in flux. One thing my students told me several times during the spring and summer is that they actually looked forward to attending my online class at X pm every day since it gave them a sense of consistency, routine, and normalcy.

I can't imagine that sending students to an ersatz version of their previous education and yanking them suddenly online and then whispering that if things get "better", they can go back to their hybrid routine would be good for their confidence and mental well-being when they're just looking for some sense of stability.
 

MsZem

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I submitted grades in one of my courses yesterday, after which I could finally see my teaching evaluations. We had one week of classroom teaching way back in March and then the rest of the semester was hastily arranged virtual classes. It was also my first time teaching the course.

The evaluations were pretty good and in line with what I usually get, which is certainly encouraging given that the course itself is a subject that's less attractive to most of them. There were some comments about things being disorganized and assignments that weren't clear from the beginning - you don't say, I only had to redo the project requirements entirely given the circumstances!

While I was grading, it was really apparent that the good students were still able to shine but the weaker ones struggled. And these are Israeli university students who are in their early to mid-twenties, not kids. We'll have to figure out how to help them learn better. While also doing research, and writing grants, and the usual administrative stuff.
 

concorde

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One of the largest school systems in the country (Fairfax County, Virginia) released guidance its "pods" a couple of days ago. Link to the complete document

In a nutshell, FCPS will not support them.

While FCPS doesn’t and can’t control these private tutoring groups, we do have concerns that they may widen the gap in educational access and equity for all students. Many parents cannot afford private instruction. Many working families can’t provide transportation to and from a tutoring pod, even if they could afford to pay for the service.​

We have received some requests from parents who would like to cluster groups or pods of students together with a specific teacher. From both a logistical perspective, and in the interest of educational equity, FCPS cannot accommodate such requests.​
 

once_upon

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15,686
My oldest son spoke at the school district that his kids attend board meeting last night.

The jist of the superintendent of the school district was along the lines of "doing what we are told we have to do and we are following the science"

Further interpretation? The president and Republican governor said schools will be fully open.

As son posted on Facebook, there are no good choices. He is fortunate enough to have a career and employer that supports him in the remote learning so his kids will not be guinea pigs. He is sad/angry for the teachers and kids who are being sacrificed.

None of the remote learning plans have been given to parents who requested this option - basically because until 1 week ago they weren't going to do any remote. Until parents demanded it. The school district has no plan. They tried to stronghold parents saying the kids were unenrolled from their schools and upon return to classroom learning may not be allowed in their current school.

As one of the comments on the school district's web site said, ********* doesn't know the difference between the north side of Harrison street from the south side. Or the difference between Douglas County and Sarpy County. Douglas County being a growing hot spot in the nation.

This is a cluster.
 

once_upon

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I just read through some comments on the school district's Facebook page. One of the "protections" the district has put in place is the use of an online assessment tool that parents are expected to complete daily. Parents started trying to load the tool as soon as the board meeting was over last night. Many parents reported they quit trying around 1 am. Some were told by the school district employees to print off the paper tool to complete.

One parent admitted to putting her child on the bus despite not being able to complete assessment. Other parents say they might do the daily assessment for a couple of weeks but probably will become lax in a couple of weeks. Only the elementary school started today. If the system was overwhelmed on the first day, imagine adding junior and senior high classes.

Other parents posted pictures of their child's classroom. One had tables, where instead of 4 students, had two students facing each other with masking tape down the middle of the desk with maybe 3 ft distance from each other. Others said rather than a decrease in class size, there was an increase from 22 to 30. Other said the average decrease in size was from 22 to 21. Another parent said their child's teacher has already stated they will be removing their masks to teach. Even though masks are mandatory for students and teachers.

There is no published plan for when quarantine would be implemented. I'm betting 2-4 weeks before they are backing to scrambling to do remote teaching. With zero planning or assistance for teachers
 

clairecloutier

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I continue to not understand the idea that they will be able to start moving towards hybrid format. I think it will get worse as time goes on, not better. I think if you start remote, you're remote through the fall.

So I read through our charter school's plan in more detail.

This is what their hybrid plan looks like:

Grades will be divided into 2 groups. Group A will attend school for 1 week at a time. The "week" will be 4 mornings in-person, with afternoons and Fridays remote. Group B will be remote for the week that Group A is in school. Then the 2 groups switch. So basically, the "hybrid" plan alternates between in-person and remote learning, on a weekly basis.

Because remote learning will be part of every student's ongoing school experience, they want the whole school to start remote for the first 2 weeks so that everyone can get comfortable and work out any issues (hopefully) with the remote learning process itself.

According to the family survey they did last week, only 54% of families planned to try the hybrid model. 10% planned to stay remote until mid-November, 22% will be remote until January, 13% will be remote all year.
 

Theoreticalgirl

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Unsurprisingly University of Pennsylvania just announced it will be fully online for the semester:


Can't say I was surprised to see this announcement after Princeton made theirs on Friday.

If the Ivies and all their money can't swing hybrid/in-person models, then what hope is there for the rest of us?
 

MacMadame

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So I read through our charter school's plan in more detail.
That sounds like a good plan. I think the 2-days a week plan is too disruptive. One whole week of learning lets you settle in, overcome any technical issues (whether in-school safety or at-home technology), and even maybe get some real socializing with your friends. The 2-days play is going to result in kids learning 2 days a week with minimal socialization (unless their parents let them visit friends on remote days, which may not be the best idea) IMO.
 

CantALoop

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While I was grading, it was really apparent that the good students were still able to shine but the weaker ones struggled. And these are Israeli university students who are in their early to mid-twenties, not kids. We'll have to figure out how to help them learn better. While also doing research, and writing grants, and the usual administrative stuff.
That's the trend I noticed in my classes too. The students who were A-B students in their previous exams held on and maintained their grades for the most part. I'd say about half of the students in the C and below range slipped further down, and the majority of them were ones without a real computer or stable Internet access. The same bimodal distribution appeared in my TA's lab classes as well.

I'm very worried that the CV's disruption to education will widen the gap between the socioeconomically poor and rich, and between students who have established study skills and those who are still building them.
 

Prancer

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Because remote learning will be part of every student's ongoing school experience, they want the whole school to start remote for the first 2 weeks so that everyone can get comfortable and work out any issues (hopefully) with the remote learning process itself.
I think that's pretty smart. There will be problems to work out. The earlier they can address problems, the better.

I'm very worried that the CV's disruption to education will widen the gap between the socioeconomically poor and rich, and between students who have established study skills and those who are still building them.
I think this is really apparent in online classes in general, but in the past, online classes were optional and most of the students who struggled knew to avoid the online classes.
 

Louis

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I'm very worried that the CV's disruption to education will widen the gap between the socioeconomically poor and rich, and between students who have established study skills and those who are still building them.
I'm seeing this with my younger niece and nephew. I will do what I can to hire them a "black market" teacher, at whatever cost, but I still have to get my sister to let the teacher come to the house, etc. Any more lost school, and I seriously fear that they will fall behind for life and end up derelict. Even before CV, they were swimming upstream in terms of neither parent having attended college, both parents having drug issues, one having an arrest record...
 

MsZem

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I'm very worried that the CV's disruption to education will widen the gap between the socioeconomically poor and rich, and between students who have established study skills and those who are still building them.
That's my concern as well. I didn't get the sense that the weaker students weren't trying, more like they didn't understand the material well enough to do a better job. I was as generous as I could given the circumstances, and they do have the option of swapping one grade from this semester for a pass so long as they indeed passed. So if anyone is really disappointed they can at least do that. But I worry about how they'll manage another semester like this.

The issue of study skills and especially writing skills is striking; it really is the basis for so much later on, and many students are lacking in this. I am forever grateful to my freshman year English teacher for helping me improve my own writing. But I was loved to read growing up, and I know most of my students are not big readers.

I think this is really apparent in online classes in general, but in the past, online classes were optional and most of the students who struggled knew to avoid the online classes.
I don't know that I'd have done as an undergraduate if I had to study online. I did skip plenty of classes back in the day, but there were subjects that would have been really difficult without regular classroom teaching.
 

MacMadame

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Our CTO posted these links to resources he said were helpful for teaching online. I haven't got the patience to watch them all myself so hopefully he is correct and they are useful:

 

concorde

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The University of Pennsylvania is now the largest four-year school in the city to change its plans for the fall semester and move to all-virtual instruction.

In a message to the Penn community Tuesday, President Amy Gutmann and other university leaders said the school decided to make the shift after seeing *********-19 continuing to spread at "an alarming rate across the country," including in many states from "which Penn welcomes thousands of students." It also announced a plan to roll back a 3.9% increase to tuition planned for this year, and institute a 10% cut to fees.
 

concorde

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That's my concern as well. I didn't get the sense that the weaker students weren't trying, more like they didn't understand the material well enough to do a better job. I was as generous as I could given the circumstances, and they do have the option of swapping one grade from this semester for a pass so long as they indeed passed. So if anyone is really disappointed they can at least do that. But I worry about how they'll manage another semester like this.
Try a 11 year old boy with 10 different teachers (core classes and all those specials). According to my son's teachers, academically he as a strong student but he still he floundered. Let's be honest - Tween boys are not known for their great organizations skills.

I cannot imagine what would have happened if he was weak academically. From what I have heard from neighbors, many kids "finished" the school year as soon as the lockdown started.

At this point, I question the benefit of the virtual specials.
 

CantALoop

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I think this is really apparent in online classes in general, but in the past, online classes were optional and most of the students who struggled knew to avoid the online classes.
ITA, many of my students said they chose an education at our university because they learned much better with in-person classes. The professor who taught the online version of my course bluntly said that some of the students who opted for the online course should not be taking online courses. She made all the students take a "diagnostic" quiz (like this) that helped convince some students not to take the online course.

Of course, it's all moot when there's no choice. I wish I could provide an in-person option for those students, but it's just not safe for them or me. I'll try my best to engage them and create a community, but that also relies on them being willing to reach back online.

But I loved to read growing up, and I know most of my students are not big readers.

I don't know that I'd have done as an undergraduate if I had to study online. I did skip plenty of classes back in the day, but there were subjects that would have been really difficult without regular classroom teaching.
My undergraduate years was during the Web 1.0 era (hello Geocities!), so online courses weren't a thing yet. However, my university had self-directed study courses. You would read a textbook chapter, take a 25-question chapter test at a testing center, and if you passed, you could move onto the next chapter. Complete all chapters by the end of the semester, you get an A. I loved those courses because I could burn through the textbook in the first six weeks and not have to worry about the class for the rest of the semester.

However, I later found out the program was discontinued because most students who tried the courses were not self-motivated learners and most of them failed self-directed study courses. In fact, Psychology 101 had a failure rate of ~70%(!) for the self-directed study students, whereas students who took the regular lecture courses had a pass rate of 80-85%.

Learning that really opened my eyes to see that unlike most of my friends at my university, many students weren't capable of studying by themselves. I imagine it's still the case at my university today.
 

skatfan

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Our local school district was to start online, hybrid and in-person classes on Monday, but due to the Governor (Ducey) of Arizona coming out with new guidelines last night, it will be delayed at least until Sept 14th, but that depends on the benchmarks. They are surprisingly reasonable, and we may follow them for our church re-opening.

Of course, this is chaos for the families that thought they would be in-person next week. Oh well. The Governor refused to budge last month when the state superintendent told him to not have funding dependent on meeting in person, and now look where things are. Sigh.
 

CassAgain

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Today was the first day of in-person meetings at my urban Arkansas public middle school. We found out that more than half the students have opted into virtual school, so social distancing in the classroom won't be a problem. We will be live streaming classes. Should be interesting!
 

PrincessLeppard

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Freshmen report tomorrow.

So far, we have changed the schedule five times, which is not anyone's fault. The plan for remote learning is up in the air (lots of people to blame there).

Good times!
 

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