Nowadays it’s tough keeping up with the shape schooling will take this fall, as governors keep changing their COVID-19 decrees and superintendents craft and recraft their opening plans. The choices: full time in-person, full-time remote instruction, a combo of the two known as the hybrid or split model.

Caught in the middle: 3.2 million public K-12 teachers, 5.1 million public school kids, and their parents, too.

And as opinions fly about every which way, so does the pushback and backtracking. For instance, Philadelphia went from a hybrid model to a now fully remote reopening, just like most of the country’s other large districts. The big and unexpected exception: As of August 7, NYC schools will go with a hybrid model.

As for what folks are saying about reopening face-to-face or not, here’s a sampling …

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease expert: “As you try to get back to school, we’re going to be learning about that. In many respects, unfortunately, though this may sound a little scary and harsh—I don’t mean it to be that way—is that you’re going to actually be part of the experiment of the learning curve of what we need to know…”
  • Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers: “We will fight on all fronts for the safety of our students and educators. But if the authorities don’t protect the safety and health of those we represent and those we serve… nothing is off the table. Not the advocacy, or protests, negotiations, grievances, or lawsuits, or, if necessary and authorized by a local union as a last resort, safety strikes.”
  • The CDC: “… The harm attributed to closed schools on the emotional, social, and behavioral health, well-being, and academic achievement of children, in both the short- and long-term, are well-known and significant.”
  • Christine Flowers, columnist and former lawyer and teacher: “I don’t mean to dismiss the real concerns of teachers who might feel particularly vulnerable to infection, including those who are older, have pre-existing conditions, or don’t want to expose vulnerable family members to what they perceive as a risk. These things can and should be dealt with clinically, rationally, with an eye on the balance between the safety and the mental health of cooped up children.”
  •  August Washington Post-Schar School parent survey:
    • 44% of parents prefer the hybrid model;
    • 39% prefer an all-virtual education for their kids;
    • 16% favor fully in-person schooling.
  • But then there are parents like reader E.B. who wrote: “I say PLEASE let the kids go back to school. We’re damaging an entire young generation over partisan nonsense!”
  • August nationwide NPR/Ipsos teacher poll:
    • 82% of K-12 teachers are concerned about returning to in-person teaching;
    • 66% would prefer to teach remotely.
  • But then there are teachers like reader M.B. who wrote: “I would go back. Better to teach in person. I’m not a fan of all Zoom and online.”
  • Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, Montgomery County (Pennsylvania) County Commissioner: “I want families to start to really understand that there is no way possible to guarantee that any school will be free of coronavirus. In fact, I think everybody needs to start to sort of let that sink in that there will be coronavirus cases in our schools. We know how contagious this virus is… The goal is to make that situation as limited as possible and keep those schools as safe as possible while getting the benefits of in-person instruction…”
  • Dr. Meeta Shah, emergency room physician: “Acknowledging that schools are typically ‘cesspools of germs’… for now I plan to send my children to school in the fall with masks or shields. But if we surge, we are prepared to bring them back home to learn virtually—for everyone’s safety…”

Of note: The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have sued Florida Governor DeSantis’s directive to offer full-time, in-person instruction to all families who want it. Their choice.

And you say?

With thanks, Carol