Dispatch From The Pandemic: A Post For Public School Parents

Ok, so I have some thoughts on home learning. I am not an expert so take this all with a grain of salt and double check my work with your district. Also, this only applies to public schools – private and religious schools are doing their own thing.

As I understand it, public schools cannot expect parents to be providing education right now. Under the law, all students have to have equal access to education and in this situation, that isn’t possible. Some kids don’t have access to technology, some kids don’t have adults who can provide guidance, kids with IEP/504 plans don’t have their accommodations, and so on. We are currently living in an educational environment that is so far from the legal definition of equitable that it’s laughable.

Teachers I have spoken with assure me that all the materials public schools are sending home now are simply tools to help students review what they already learned so far this year. It isn’t new material. It isn’t even true homework. There should be no expectation that students will complete the work and be graded on it when school resumes. Since not all students will be able to do it, the school can’t insist that it happen.

SO. That means that we can all breathe a little bit about the packets and online assignments that schools tossed at us on our way out the door last week. Nothing bad will happen if the kids don’t do them, particularly the K-5 crowd. Middle school kids are probably ok as well. I have no idea what to do for high school kids because I haven’t gotten that far in parenting yet.

The other thing this means is that we are not the ones obligated to ensure our kids learn what they were supposed for the remainder of the year. It will be legally incumbent on the public schools to make a plan for all students to get the education they were entitled to before the pandemic. When schools know what’s happening, they’ll tell us how they intend to do their job.

Because they still want to do their job. They aren’t abandoning us all. Their mission hasn’t changed. It’s just delayed.

What all of this means for now is that we can all take a step back and plan for learning that works for our own families. We don’t need to become experts in homeschool or try to replicate the work of our neighborhood schools. Use the review materials as guidance but don’t assume they are a rigid set of expectations for students. You can focus on nature walks or crazy science videos on YouTube or read the entire Harry Potter series aloud to your kids. It’s ok. Any learning keeps the brain working.

And if you can’t do anything because earning a living is more important, earn your living. Survival comes first.

This is uncharted territory for everyone and we all need to figure it out for ourselves. it isn’t a competition. No one – adiults or kids – is getting graded on how we do this.

Do your best. That’s all we can do

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