I am advocating for a safe reopening of our Frisco schools for this fall, mainly for our students' social, physical, and emotional wellbeing. Academic achievements are better addressed when students attend in-person classes at school than virtual classrooms from home. Another important factor to consider is that academic achievement gaps are widening among the middle and lower-income level students. If we can reopen schools, we can bridge that achievement gap.
Our educators dedicated their lives to providing a holistic and rigorous education for our children. As I understand the health concerns of the teachers and staff, with strict CDC guidelines we can set up safety guidelines to address those concerns and make sure everyone is safe and healthier inside the school.
Younger children in Pre-Kindergarten through 5th grade, kids with special needs, students whose classes need access to science labs, and those who have CTE classes, have become more difficult to teach because they require hands-on learning. No virtual classroom will ever compare to being taught in person by an educator.
The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that schools should reopen as well. "The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020," the group representing 67,000 pediatricians wrote. "Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation." Not to mention that child abuse cannot be reported in a virtual school setting.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield said, ”I'm of the point of view as a public health leader in this nation, that having the schools actually closed is a greater public health threat to the children than having the schools reopen.”
Even the May 2020 Frisco ISD survey results from more than 16,000 parents show that 44% of parents favored starting school normally with additional safety and health measures in place, where 33% were interested in a blended approach and 22% favored eLearning.
Our challenge is educating and supporting our children throughout this pandemic, which requires a lot of time and energy from all parents, teachers, students, and taxpayers.
Finally, it is up to parents to make the best decision for their family for either in-person or virtual classes. It is the responsibility of our administrators to provide both opportunities and make them into a reality in order to provide kids with a safe and healthy environment that meet social, physical and emotional needs, and provide top class academic excellence.