Choice Comes with Responsibility

Almost half of the children in Fairfax county chose 2 days per week of face-to-face classes. With this choice, schools then have the responsibility to keep everyone (students, teachers and staff) safe while on campus. Although this translates only to about 25 percent occupancy, the risks are thought to be unacceptable. Now that the choice of going one hundred percent virtual has been made, this decision also comes with responsibility. That responsibility, of course, is primarily the education of our children in a virtual environment. And this is challenging. As research has shown, distance learning is a lot more inefficient than face-to-face learning. In a study involving an introductory physiology class, students perform poorly in exams that require comprehension when the content is delivered online. The scores are markedly lower for students in distance learning. 

Above copied from the Journal of Curriculum and Teaching

In the above, two types of exams are used. MQ corresponds to questions that only require memory while CQ requires comprehension of the material. LL are for students who have received face-to-face instruction while PRL+ are for students who received distance instruction. The study ensures technological access is available, but even with ample resources, the instruction still fails in the distance mode. These are college students which we can assume are far more responsible than elementary school children and yet, distance learning still takes a huge toll on their learning.

The choice made by Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) comes with challenges and its educators need to work harder to ensure that this coming school year will not be a disaster. It is truly unfortunate that we are facing circumstances that make learning a lot more difficult but we must make ourselves aware of these additional challenges. We do not want to take any risks with regard to health, but we now must acknowledge that we have taken risks on other things. And it is not just the fact that distance learning is less effective. There are other risks that we now have taken as suggested by a post from a supervisor in Fairfax county.

The choice FCPS made is not risk-free.