Originally published by Medium – September 24, 2020
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise across Florida, the debate on reopening schools for in-person learning is still going on. My question is: Why aren’t we working towards an online model that will be successful for both students and teachers? School districts should be partnering with schools that have been doing this effectively already.
Rather than debating which option is more effective, let’s keep our families and educators safe and give both educators and families the option to school and teach at home virtually.
This is not an imaginary, fantasy dream. This is something that thousands of students and teachers in Florida, and across the country, are already used to. Now, during the time of COVID-19, we should not be debating when to open school doors.
I am not saying that this has to be a permanent solution, because every student has different needs. But while we are dealing with a pandemic, it is an option that should be available to families without penalty. And we should be figuring out how to get students online before the new year begins.
Online school is a solution that works for many families. My daughter attends Florida Cyber Charter Academy. When the pandemic hit, she went right on learning. And without a disruption to her education, she is experiencing success both academically and in her personal lives.
If schools make a return to in-person learning, students, families, and teachers will live every day with the fear of catching the virus, or with the stress of potential disruptions due to closures when there is a surge of cases. These kinds of distractions and stress have the potential to impact the academic performance of students and is unfair to ask of our educators and families.
Just because students attend school online does not mean that they are isolated or alone. Learning is still a shared, collaborative experience. Students interact with one another and their teachers in productive and enriching ways, just as they would in-person.
As we all face the reality that students need to be in school in the fall, it is important to consider how this can work online. School districts need to start drafting plans now for how they will help students, parents, and teachers navigate online schools and meet the shared goal of student success.
With everything going on in the world it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Parents who are guiding students through this transition should know that there are plenty of resources available to help them adjust to this new normal. You do not need to feel alone.
This should be an option for every parent, and it is up to school districts to put these plans in place. There is no time to waste.
Melissa Ley is a mother of a daughter attending the online Florida Cyber Charter Academy. As an online school parent, she has seen firsthand how this solution works.
To learn more about Florida Cyber Charter Academy, visit https://flcca.k12.com/