As the pandemic continues, many of us are clinging to the hope that soon everything will improve and life will return to “normal.” But the future still seems uncertain. It’s hard to know what to expect this summer and into the fall, particularly for schools.
States are considering a variety of different options and possibilities to keep students learning, and most importantly, how to keep them safe. Experts and school leaders are evaluating everything from how students will ride the bus safely to planning out patterns of movement throughout the school day.
There are also considerations about how to manage hands-on classes like science labs and PE and how to proceed with team sports and extracurricular activities.
This is an overwhelming number of logistics to coordinate and decisions to make in the next few months. We compiled a list below of some of the scenarios we are hearing as the most likely options, but we anticipate they will vary from state to state as the situation continues to evolve.
Everything returns to normal.
Some schools are holding onto the idea that the virus will have receded in many parts of the country and they will be able to reopen normally in the fall. Although this seems unlikely, some states are already attempting to return to business as usual.
We continue to stay home.
There is the possibility that the virus will surge again in the early fall and winter, leading to another long break from physical school. This could require educators to continue with distance learning for the long-term. For example, the State of Colorado has announced that their students will not be returning to school in any normalized way until January (at the earliest).
Back to school (and back out) as periodic spikes dictate.
Another scenario could be that the virus continues to wax and wane, and districts will need to respond accordingly. This means they will need to be prepared for an online learning option and be ready to engage if and when the health crisis dictates distance learning is required.
One option that might help to spread students out is a half-day schedule. This could mean that some students work in the morning and others come the second half of the day. This would reduce the number of students at school together all at once.
This blended model could be a combination of online and face-to-face work. The “at school’ work would most likely follow one of the schedules we highlighted here to accommodate reduced movement patterns.
Early start (in July)
A couple states are suggesting that students could return to school as early as July. The State of California is evaluating the option to have students who have fallen behind, those who need remediation, or those who need to reengage, start the new school year mid-summer.
There could be an option to stagger students throughout the day to limit the number of students at school together at one time. This would most likely also include some remote learning as well.
On and off schedule.
Another option to minimize the number of students at school together would be to create an alternating weekly schedule. For example, one group would come on Monday, Wednesday and Friday one week and then alternate to Tuesday and Thursday the following week. Coordinating this option could be more complicated and a challenge for families to manage, but is one possibility.
There is an option to accommodate learning based on needs. For example, students who have fallen behind or who have not had online learning support at home might be grouped together and students who are more advanced and looking for enrichment could be in a separate group. These groups could be determined based on needs assessments and would receive targeted instruction to support their learning goals.
Students pursue other options.
Some parents are voicing their concerns about the safety of their children this fall. Now that many families have adjusted to online learning, some may decide to pursue their own online learning options through virtual or charter schools.
Regardless of how we navigate these challenges, the main priority is to ensure our students and our communities are safe and that students are able to continue to learn (in whatever capacity that works best). We are here to support you however we can. To learn more about Apex Learning Virtual School and our part-time and full-time online learning options, visit: https://www.apexlearningvs.com/.