Like an episode from Twilight Zone, along with distressing news briefs, masks and rubber gloves are now the order of the day, along with skyrocketing deliveries and plummeting gas prices. COVID-19 has shuttered much of our world, and that includes our nation’s schools, sending both teachers and students home and into homeschooling, unprepared parents serving as subs and tutors

Going full-out digital has been no easy task, involving lots of scrambling to get devices into the hands of students—cities like Philly are still at it late-April–and getting teachers up to speed on such unfamiliar platforms as Google Classroom and Zoom and successfully delivering lessons from afar.

Now and for the foreseeable future, this is the COVID-imposed face of education in America–distant and digital.

Major worries: Wi-Fi and device availability, on-point lessons, home variables, special education students, English language learners–some 400 languages are spoken in our schools—new content coverage.

Adding to remote learning’s woes, kids at home and not showing up, not participating.

In Los Angeles alone, some 15,000 high schoolers are officially absent, with more than 40,000 others not in touch with their teachers every day since March 16.

Reasons abound and include lack of interest, tech issues, inadequate home support, and multiple distractions competing for kids’ attention.

Says high schooler Joshua Omoloa, “I realized very early on that is very difficult to work at home when your bed is three feet away.” Ditto the X-box, television, and Instagram

Bigger yet, the remoteness of online learning itself. Its lack of in-person contact impacts all kids, but none more than those at-risk, and it’s raising red flags.

According to a recent EdWeek Research Center survey:

  • 42% of teachers/district leaders say they’re “very concerned,” while 47% are “somewhat concerned.”
  • In schools where more than 75% of students are from low-income families, 50% are “very concerned.”

As Los Angeles Superintendent Austin Buether explains, “The harder part is not the technology. The harder part is establishing a connection to the students. I mean that human connection of some sort.”

“What makes this so much worse and difficult is… I don’t know when I’m going to see these kids again,” says English teacher James MacIndoe.

And that says it all…

With safe and sound wishes, Carol