School confessional: ‘How can we expect children and teachers to be at 100% capacity?'

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(Thanassis Stavrakis, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The following is a response to our call for people to share thoughts and concerns about Michigan schools returning to in-person learning this fall.

“As an elementary school teacher with over 20 years of teaching experience, I do not feel in-person instruction this fall is the best scenario given what I know about how children learn. If my district decides on in-person instruction, I am looking at spending the whole day in a room with 28-30 unmasked children. That concerns me not just for my own health, but for the health of the children and their families. It simply isn’t worth it given the quality of instruction I’d be able to give. The lessons I would be able to provide given the social distancing requirements would not provide for my students’ educational and social-emotional needs. What I know about how children learn must include ways for children to move and talk in pairs or small groups about their thinking and learning. Children need small group instruction with me, or one-on-one instruction where I sit next to a student and help them with a difficult math concept or push their thinking regarding what they’re reading. What I know about how children learn does not include sitting most of the day behind a desk away from other students and at least 6 feet from their teacher. It does not include missing out on recess and lunch with their friends in other classes, assemblies, and field trips. It does not include eliminating time sitting on the carpet listening to a story because there isn’t room to sit far enough apart. In-person instruction, given the need to social distance, will not provide for the needs of my students and will put all of us at risk of contracting a virus that is still not completely understood. Of course, teaching virtually will not provide all of what my students need, but neither would in-person instruction. I don’t like teaching virtually, but I feel confident that I can provide a lot of what my students need and it would be done safely. Until all businesses are at 100% capacity, how can we expect children and teachers to be at 100% capacity? Let’s wait a semester and reevaluate.”

-- Anonymous

View more: School Confessionals

School confessionals: Share your thoughts, concerns about return to in-person learning

Michigan school districts, colleges and universities are working to prepare for a return to in-person classes this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In-person classes were stopped in March when the virus swept through Michigan. On June 30, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer revealed her plan to help schools across the state return to in-person learning this fall. The “MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap” is a 63-page document that outlines coronavirus (COVID-19) safety protocols for each phase of Whitmer’s reopening plan.

The governor’s order requires each school district to adopt a COVID-19 plan that lays out how it will protect students and educators across the various phases of the Michigan Safe Start Plan. Whitmer’s roadmap is to be used as a guide.

This has everyone -- parents, teachers and students -- wondering whether this is a good idea, how well it can be accomplished, how safe everyone can be kept, and what exactly the best to do this will be.

Please share your thoughts and concerns about returning to in-person learning this fall -- we want to hear from you: