Teachers are returning to school buildings.
I know the decisions have been made, and concurrent instruction is happening, but I want to clarify my concerns on the education side of things (I think I've gone on before about the public health side of this).
At our local high school, about 85-90% of the teachers are returning to classrooms, but, fewer than half of the students are returning to the building.
So 90% of our teachers are returning to school buildings to improve the education of fewer than 50% of the students. I worry that teaching concurrently will generally degrade instruction, especially for remote students. I'm sure this isn't true for all teachers or contexts (e.g., special needs, vocational ed, and others), but based on my work with teachers around the country, the shift to concurrent is not an easy one.
I would argue that even if your goal is to keep students from "falling behind," the right strategy in November should have been to say that schools will stay remote for the remainder of the school year. Everyone could have focused on really great virtual instruction instead of spending so much time, money, and emotional energy preparing to return to school buildings.
And, there is a racial layer to this as well. Which students are returning? Data from around the country indicate that white students are returning to buildings in numbers FAR greater than students of color (e.g., New York, Nashville). This is not surprising in light of a recent Axios poll that indicates that Black and Latino parents are twice as likely as white parents to be extremely or very concerned about schools in their community reopening too quickly.
Put this all together, and I think it's reasonable to predict that returning to buildings for concurrent instruction will widen opportunity gaps.
Teachers: Good luck. You have been put in a tough position, but I know you will do your best. I appreciate all you have done and all you will do.
Parents: This is a huge shift. Check in on your students often.