Letters to the Editor: July 23 – 29, 2020
News-Press Story On Parent Survey Was Misinterpreted
I’m afraid that the News-Press (and possibly the Falls Church City Public Schools Superintendent as well) have misinterpreted the survey filled out by parents regarding a return to school. In the survey, we were given three choices for our kids: sending them in-person 2 days a week at 50 percent capacity, participating in an online program offered by the state, or not returning to FCCPS. I looked at the survey again today and the wording has changed, but those were the options I was offered about two weeks ago.
I would have very much preferred an online-only offering from FCCPS, like we had in the spring (but for a few hours a day instead of just one). The online program from the state sounded generic to me, and I am far less confident in the quality of instruction compared to what we would get from our city and our teachers. It also didn’t sound like my kids would be assigned a teacher: I would much prefer that someone teaching them online know their names and know that they are there — otherwise it’s just like watching a TV program.
Knowing that our schools have many priorities to juggle, and hoping that I could trust FCCPS and the Health Department not to reopen unless the data shows that it can be done safely, I reluctantly chose the 2-day a week option. Now it feels that my response has been used to push a 100 percent return to school, and also to show parental support for the in-person 2-day a week return to school. I would not have chosen either of those options if given a decent online option. The parents do not “favor the current board proposal for hybrid teaching,” as the News-Press has reported Dr. Noonan said at last week’s school board meeting. The survey gave us little choice but to accept the proposal or “go it alone.”
I am glad that our infections rates in the city are low, but we don’t live in a 2-square-mile bubble. Many of the people in our grocery stores and restaurants are from Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax, and many our our students also move around and interact with people from outside the city. Many families are traveling all over the country right now. We can’t just look at the numbers for our little area to determine if in-person schooling is safe.
As I hope you will be reporting this week, teachers from the elementary schools have also been speaking out this week about their concerns regarding in-person instruction for elementary schoolers at 50 percent capacity. A large number of the teachers at Mt. Daniel, for instance, do not believe that they can safely teach young students in-person at this time (and have sent a letter to this effect to Dr. Noonan and the School Board).
I don’t believe that the results of this survey should be used to pressure teachers and parents back into school. We were not given a valid choice for online schooling, and many of us would chose that if we could.
Even ‘Bad’ History Provides Insight On Reopening Schools
Those who don’t fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them…or (my addition) not to repeat them.
But it might be that those who study even bad history might find odd good opportunities there.
There’s some “bad” history that offers a bit of at-least-temporary relief. During the long period that South Carolina had totally-segregated schools, before the Supreme Court decided that “separate but equal” was a total fiction, racist South Carolina actually had a special-circumstances policy on schools that might be useful for us during the current Covid-19 disaster. Those those “separate-but-equal” school systems were absolutely unequal in the dates of the school years.
The white-school schedules in South Carolina closely resembled the dates of the schools in the rest of the country.
Not for the South Carolina schools for African Americans. Not at all.
African American schools had huge blank spaces in the autumn calendar.
To make up for those times, the African American schools may have started early, or stayed in school longer in the spring, but they definitely had long periods of September & October — in which all of South Carolina’s African American schools were closed.
Why? Mostly-white economic reasons. Someone had to pick the cotton.
So, that tells me that entire school systems had histories of having breaks in their school years of about six weeks.
If then-backward South Carolina could do that, why can somewhat-more-modernized areas do that?
If all the other areas of the U.S. are less well educated than is Falls Church City, why can we not exercise our own wisdom?:
Have the Falls Church City Public Schools system go entirely to non-attendance/only-online teaching for at least up to the end of October, or at least up to when Virginia again turns negative in the expansionist numbers – yes, we’re expanding again.
Every real health expert across the nation states that mandatory masking is necessary, but even that is not enough – the nation, or at least areas that want to save themselves, need to go to nearly-full-lock-down for at least three weeks. Opening the schools, even only two days a week for individual students, is in no way a lock-down. In a period when the state has its horrible numbers expanding, it is too risky a policy for everyone.
Dr. Jack Gosnell
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