Dr. Stipek said that parents of elementary school kids should look to their schools for resources and guidance, and, as much as possible, supplement school learning with reading, games and activities. “Something as simple as talking about measurements and the effects of different ingredients while baking muffins can be educational,” she said. But with many families currently feeling the crunch of work and child care, “parents shouldn’t feel guilty that they aren’t doing enough,” she said. “Schools are going to have to adapt to meet children where they are.”
That’s what Greg Korchnak, a teacher at Summers-Knoll School in Ann Arbor, Mich., plans to do. “There are parts of school and our education system that don’t make learning accessible for all students,” said Korchnak, who directs the school’s remote learning program. “This moment is an opportunity for school systems to be reflective, scrap the parts that don’t work and find new ways to reach students beyond the traditional model of education.”
In addition to students with learning disabilities, children from low-income households may also be at greater risk of falling behind. Though Dr. Stipek is confident that teachers will do everything they can to help kids catch up when they return to school, she is concerned that the lack of in-person instruction may increase the achievement gap already prevalent between socioeconomic groups.
“Affluent parents are better situated to help or hire help for their kids working online,” she said. “Children in economically disadvantaged families are less likely to have consistent access to the internet, and their parents have fewer resources to provide additional support. This situation can exacerbate a problem that’s already there.”
Amy Estes, a teacher in Sacramento, Calif., said her public school district is preparing to expand its tech offerings and paper materials to kids who don’t have access, as well as ramping up resources like meals, counseling and home visits. In addition, Estes has spent the last month helping the school draft a rigorous online curriculum that includes ways to meet the diverse needs of non-English speakers and special education students. “We’re working to get teachers the training they need to design lessons and interact with students in more constructive ways,” she said. “The benefit to pivoting to distance learning officially is that now districts can help teachers do a better job.”
Regardless of socioeconomic status, a household filled with anxiety and stress can be a major driver of kids falling behind, said Bruce Fuller, Ph.D., a professor of education and public policy at U.C. Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. When parents lose their patience or don’t listen, said Dr. Fuller, children can start to shut down emotionally, in turn disengaging from reading and rich conversation inside the family.
Table Of Contents
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated July 27, 2020
Should I refinance my mortgage?
- It could be a good idea, because mortgage rates have never been lower. Refinancing requests have pushed mortgage applications to some of the highest levels since 2008, so be prepared to get in line. But defaults are also up, so if you’re thinking about buying a home, be aware that some lenders have tightened their standards.
What is school going to look like in September?
- It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
- The coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale, mounting scientific evidence suggests. This risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain super-spreading events reported in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants. It’s unclear how often the virus is spread via these tiny droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech. Aerosols are released even when a person without symptoms exhales, talks or sings, according to Dr. Marr and more than 200 other experts, who have outlined the evidence in an open letter to the World Health Organization.
Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?
- So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.
“Children’s cognitive learning is built on a secure emotional foundation,” he said. “If they continually see their parents unhappy or anxious, it can start to inhibit their own development. That’s worrying, because this is a really stressful time for parents. It can be hard to maintain a calm and attentive climate for kids when parents must take over schooling.”