It has been said that distance makes the heart grow fonder. Traditionally, this is meant to apply to relationships between people, but we would also make the argument that this applies to other areas of life as well. In light of the ongoing COVID-19
It has been said that distance makes the heart grow fonder. Traditionally, this is meant to apply to relationships between people, but we would also make the argument that this applies to other areas of life as well.
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we would also surmise that for students in Rhode Island, forced remote learning and distance from their teachers and classmates has made them much fonder, more appreciative and excited to be back in physical school buildings – even if things are not quite back to a “normal” experience within those classroom walls just yet.
This week saw the welcome return of many freshmen high school students and middle school students in Warwick. It is part of the “hybrid” model of learning where students who choose to participate will spend two days during the week physically at school and the remaining three days remote learning.
Although they’ll be eating lunch in classrooms and seeing far fewer of their classmates around – they’re split into two groups that alternate days of physically attendance – and are still required to maintain social distancing while in school, the return to in-person learning will likely make not only a noticeable difference for them educationally, but mentally as well.
The jury has long been out that although remote learning has its share of benefits – especially during a global pandemic – there is a sizable list of drawbacks, too. Children need social interaction with each other. They need time away from the house and the ability to speak with a teacher alone about an issue they may be having with a lesson plan. They need to be free of distractions or intermittent internet connectivity issues disrupting their workflow. Economic disparity in our education system was problematically prevalent before functioning technology became a prerequisite for engaging in that system. Such disparity will become more pronounced the longer kids are cut off from physical schools.
So, in our view, although the virus continues to ravage the country and our vaccine rollout remains painfully slow – engaging in this hybrid model is absolutely the right thing to do for students. The hard work will remain for parents, educators and administrators to figure out how to continue to do it safely and support the expected difficulties that will accompany this model, such as children (and adults) not wanting to wear masks all day and finding an adequate supply of substitute teachers (which was a problem before a widespread illness began spreading).
Still, these challenges are not insurmountable and must be tackled for the benefit of our students. The pandemic has affected all of us in different ways, but our heart has a special kind of ache for students who have been deprived of a normal education and time spent with their friends navigating life together. Likewise, we feel for the educators who have dedicated themselves to a career of instructing students – only to find themselves in an impossible situation where they fear either putting themselves and their students at a health risk, or alternatively risk their educational advancement. Truly, it has been a no-win situation for all involved in the educational field.
We must continue to make necessary sacrifices to safeguard each other and hope that brighter days are on the horizon. Once distance and remote learning are no longer required to keep people safe, we hope that the lessons we have all learned through this terrible endeavor will guide and inform us moving forward.