In-School Instruction Dedication Laudable

In-School Instruction Dedication Laudable

With soaring positivity rates and increased hospitalizations, it often seems like we are regressing with the pandemic. Indeed, the last couple months have been frustrating for progress seekers, but there is one bright light in this ongoing journey with the coronavirus.

Significant steps in the right direction have been made by many school officials when it comes to the importance of in-person learning, while some are lagging behind. This became clear over the last week as the holidays were wrapping up and concerns surfaced about whether school systems or individual schools would need to revert to virtual learning. Sensing the trend toward reducing in-person learning due to positive case increases among teachers and students, the Maryland Department of Education issued a blunt directive for school system to push forward despite health metric concerns.

“Across the state, we must keep schools open for in-person instruction to ensure excellent educational opportunities and strong outcomes for all students, especially those who have been historically underserved and most impacted by the suspension of in-person learning,” said State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury. “There is strong consensus from researchers that schools can and should stay open for in-person instruction and that school leaders must use every tool at their disposal to do so given the adverse effects closures have on students and their families. We have seen the devastating impact of school closures and long-term virtual instruction on student learning here in Maryland and across the country. When COVID-19 transmission increases and health measures become a necessity, schools must be the last places to close. With unprecedented federal and State resources and tools, we can keep schools safely open for in-person, full-time learning.”

Choudhury said he would not hesitate to take action if any school system kept a school closed for in-person learning for over two weeks. Days after that announcement, Montgomery County reverted 11 schools to virtual learning for two weeks. More schools could be added if 5% of the school’s students and staff test positive. This means if 50 individuals in a school of 1,000 combined students and staff test positive virtual learning is needed. This is an absurd way to manage learning and the exact opposite of how school systems should approach the virus. We must press ahead. There are numerous avenues to take to keep kids in school, and Worcester County with its “test to stay” approach is a shining example.

It’s time to be aggressive and push forward with a concentration on in-person learning at all times. Fortunately, those of us in Worcester County public schools know full well retaining in-person instruction is the focus here. Like in many other areas, there was concern Worcester may need to go virtual this week due to elevated case rates among its teachers. On New Year’s Day, communication came schools would reopen with some cautionary literature posted online to remind families of current protocols. The information presented confirms the current concerns, but officials showed courage and understanding in moving ahead. It was the right decision.

Bluewater Advertorial  

We believe the focused approach on keeping kids in school is supported by a majority of school-aged families. It must remain the intent moving forward.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.