Thoughts on in-person instruction
Since I announced my candidacy for SMUSD Board, the most common question I receive is "What is your position on in-person instruction for the fall of 2020?". The answer to this is I am 100% in favor of students returning to campus ASAP. There are many reasons why I support in-person instruction, but the main reasons are:
In-person instruction is the best educational experience for our students
Choice! I believe that all families should have the choice for in-person or virtual learning.
Equity - In-person instruction provides the best chance for all of our students to have an equal access to education. There are many families that don't have access to high speed internet, understand technology, don't have funds to hire tutors, have a social circle to form learning pods, or English is a second language. When people say no student will be left behind because we are all going through this, I believe that statement is 100% wrong. Many students will be at a disadvantage and left behind because they don't have the means to keep pace with others who do have the means during remote instruction.
School sites are a social safe haven that help provide nutrition and a safe physical and learning environment.
There is no doubt to achieve in-person instruction we will have to implement many safety protocols. We could achieve this by applying a phased approached to return to in-person instruction allowing for physical distancing (K-3, 6th Grade, Freshman and Seniors return first which would allow for 50% of capacity at school sites), ensuring we have appropriate amounts of PPE, and all routines are followed and enforced. Block schedules and split classes could also help achieve the physical distancing needed to have in-person instruction.
This will not be an easy decision for families, staff, and the District, but I am a firm believer we need to give choice for all and allow each to make a decision based on their personal situation.