The Covid Pandemic and Inequity in Education
Years ago, my daughter was invited to transfer to another elementary school for an advanced academic program. The principal at her current school then, Brian Butler, convinced me to have my daughter stay in the same school. Butler is one principal I knew who would give my daughter the opportunity and tools to realize her potential. It is not a special treatment. It is just the way Butler treats each student. This month marks the return to in-person schooling in Fairfax county, but we do have the choice of keeping our children in a virtual setting. There is considerable demand for in-person classes and with mitigation strategies, not every child can go in-person. My children have been thriving in an online environment and I am currently holding all my classes and office hours virtual so I am quite available to serve as a monitor to my children at home. Thus, we chose our children to stay virtual, hoping that the opportunity will be made to two other children out there who need face-to-face instruction more than my children do. The pandemic makes us worry about learning loss, but we also need to keep in mind equity in education.
The need for in-person instruction is especially urgent for parents who cannot work at home. The need for in-person instruction is evident when a student is falling behind, unable to participate for several reasons, such as poor internet and a home environment not conducive to learning. There are also children who need food assistance. The free lunch programs at schools ensure that these children are fed on time. My daughter's principal has taught me so much. Every child deserves the opportunity. That is equity in education.
The COVID pandemic is not yet over. There is still significant community transmission. In fact, the guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that, as of today, we are still currently at very high risk in Fairfax county. The number of new cases per 100000 persons within the past 14 days is still very high. This makes it even more important that mitigation strategies are faithfully implemented inside the schools.
It is good that we still have the choice. It is good that children who really need face-to-face instruction will have the opportunity. There is hope especially with vaccines. We will get through this pandemic but with our efforts, with or without a pandemic, we must work hard to achieve equity in education. Every child deserves an opportunity.