The head spins with the constant COVID drumbeat of decrees and rising number alerts, lots of it now falling on the shoulders of educators, parents, and kids, as districts sort through it all, crafting and re-crafting their school reopening plans.

The dilemma says Education Week’s Catherine Gewertz: “Scientists don’t fully understand yet children’s role in spreading COVID-19, so it’s hard to tell whether schools could become major coronavirus spreaders. The prospect is worrisome. But should it prompt schools to reconsider letting students return in person when legions of parents are begging for it?”

Well, just yesterday, The Times Herald announced, “Colonial reconsiders reopening plans.” In other words, hybrid is now out; remote is in, a scenario playing out across the country.

And it’s happening despite the many surveys districts sent out to assess stakeholder opinions.

In July, my district found that:

  • 75% of respondents favored an in-person reopening;
  • 25% preferred the virtual option.

Nevertheless, the district is now going all out remote until January 22, 2021…

  • The elementary day ~ 8:30 to 3:15 (6.75 hours)
  • The middle school day ~ 9:00 to 3:30 (6.5 hours)
  • The high school day ~ 8:45 to 3:15 (6.5 hours)

Yes, more than 6 hours plugged in to a screen, 30 minutes allotted for lunch.

This despite Quizlet’s recent State of Remote Learning 2020 Report’s finding that, once COVID-19 shutdowns hit, U.S, students were 27% less engaged than those in such places as Brazil (207% more engaged), South Korea (198% more engaged), and Poland (96% more engaged.)

As Kristi Wilson, president of the American Association of School Administrators and superintendent of Arizona’s Buckeye Elementary School District, reminds us, “The pressure is tremendous. The superintendent’s chair is a lonely chair, especially through COVID-19.”

She explains: “When you’re the first to do something, and it goes badly—when you have the pressure of trying to meet everyone’s needs and then you fail—there’s no amount of liability insurance out there that can help you when something does.”

Bottom line: Playing it safe, not sorry is now trending.

With thanks and well wishes, Carol