A Simple Fix: Kindergarten at Night

on Dec18
by | Comments Off on A Simple Fix: Kindergarten at Night |

This is the Coronavirus Schools Briefing, a guide to the seismic changes in U.S. education that are taking place during the pandemic. Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox.

It’s almost impossible for kindergarten students and first graders to learn remotely without adult supervision. But school and work start and end around the same time. It’s difficult for parents to oversee remote learning and do their jobs at the same time, even if they’re working from home.

So KIPP Newark, a free, public charter school network in Newark, N.J., started offering a kindergarten and first grade class at night in mid-October. For working parents and high-needs children, the 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. window makes everything possible.

“Attendance-wise, it’s completely changed,” said Meredith Eger, the lead teacher of the night kindergarten class. “Some of the kids that joined us right away, they missed school all of September and most of October.”

For Ethan, a kindergarten student with autism, daytime school just didn’t work. He missed 29 classes when school met during the day. Without both of his parents there, he struggled to wake up and stay focused, said his mother, Jessica Blair.

Now, they log on together 10 minutes early and pipe the class through speakers, so Ethan still hears class even if he wanders. The 5-year-old likes to sit on his father’s lap to learn, she said.

“If it was just me, I don’t think I could do it and Ethan probably would not do it,” said Blair. “But with his father being there, that helps a lot.”

KIPP has some remote classes meeting during the day. But 24 kids have signed up for the night experiment, Eger said, and interest continues to grow.

“Compared with my daytime, I see parents sitting right next to them,” said Lily Ventrell, the learning specialist for first graders and kindergarten students. “It just makes it so much easier for them, compared to the daytime. Even if a parent is working at home, it’s just so hard.”

Flipping the schedule, Ventrell said, simplified everything. “We can only do so much from our side,” she said. “We need our families. We can’t go and give the kids a hug or grab them a pencil.”

Once, school bus drivers brought kids to school. Now, they’re bringing online school to kids.

Regular readers of this newsletter know that digital divides have drastically widened this year. School districts scrambled to get their students tablets, and many families didn’t have internet access. Some students filed assignments from parking lots. Some didn’t log on at all.

In Jackson, Mich., where more than 70 percent of children are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, 50 school buses now act as mobile hot spots. The buses, fitted with Wi-Fi antennas, have made this semester possible for about a fifth of the district’s 5,000 schoolchildren. The project cost the district $65,000.

At 8 a.m., drivers park their yellow armada at parks, apartment complexes, a homeless shelter and a rec center. The Wi-Fi reaches about 100 yards.

The interactive Times story, reported by Kathleen Gray with photographs by Erin Kirkland, has beautiful pictures and stories from families and teachers in Jackson. To read it in full, click here.

Since March, public school students have learned remotely in Chicago, the third-largest district in the United States. There has been a messy political fight about when and how schools might reopen — and it may be about to get even messier.

The Chicago Teachers Union has pushed back against the district’s efforts to reopen classrooms, citing concerns over testing and tracing, health and safety protocols, vaccines and questions about the metrics the district will use to reopen schools.

On Thursday, the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board denied the union’s request to seek a preliminary injunction that could have complicated the planned return to school next year. Undeterred, the union is looking ahead to a hearing, which could escalate the fight.

Right now, staff members are slated to return to classrooms on Jan. 4. Students will begin a phased return to in-person learning on Jan. 11.

“We are obviously thrilled with the ruling,” Janice Jackson, the district’s chief executive, told Amelia.

In a recent survey, only about a third of Chicago families said they would return for in-person learning. A majority of the about 208,000 students in the district who are eligible return are Black and Latino, as are a majority of the over 77,000 students who selected in-person learning. But white families expressed a preference for in-person learning at higher rates.

To the district, that’s evidence that schools need to reopen.

“We, as a school system, serve primarily Black and Latinx students,” Dr. Jackson said. “And when we look at the data and when we see who is not attending school on a regular basis or where there are lower levels of engagement, they are Black and Latinx.”

To the union, which contends teachers shouldn’t have to simultaneously teach in-person and remotely, the survey is evidence that reopening schools would hurt most students.

“If we take our teachers and we put them in classrooms where they’re going to have to supervise and pay attention to the one-third of the students who are there with them, what does it mean for the two-thirds of the students that they’re not able to devote their full attention to?” Jesse Sharkey, the union president, told Amelia. “It means that two-thirds of the students are going to get a less good education.”

A similar fight is brewing in California, where most public school children are still learning at home. Two teachers unions oppose legislation that could force schools to reopen in March.

  • The entire men’s basketball team at the University of Houston has tested positive for the coronavirus this year.

  • Judson College, a women’s Christian college in Alabama, might not reopen for the spring semester after the pandemic exacerbated financial difficulties. If the college does not receive $500,000 in donations by Dec. 31, the president said, the college will not open for spring and “all students will be informed of transfer options to complete their degrees.”

  • The football team at the University of California, Los Angeles will not play in a bowl game, one of several teams to make such a decision.

  • As of early December, federal financial aid applications for college had dropped about 14 percent from this time last year.

  • An opinion: “There is no ethical way for Penn State to resume any in person classes next semester, unless the coronavirus vaccine is available to all students and required,” wrote Grace Miller, the opinion editor at The Daily Collegian, the student newspaper at Pennsylvania State University. The state of Pennsylvania also urged colleges to delay a return to campus next semester.

  • The Supreme Court refused to exempt religious schools in Kentucky from a statewide shutdown of in-person learning.

  • Instead of failing students this semester, Los Angeles will give them a second chance to pass their classes.

  • The Idaho Board of Education voted to waive a college-entrance exam requirement for this year’s graduating high school seniors.

  • A good read: Maybor Bill de Blasio said New York City will overhaul its controversial process for some of its selective middle and high school admissions. “It took a pandemic for de Blasio to take action on school integration,” tweeted our colleague Eliza Shapiro.

  • A good watch: The Times embedded in one school in the Bronx for 33 days, chronicling its effort to reopen during the pandemic. Go watch, please. You won’t regret it.

As finals loom and schools go on break, we will, too. We’ll be back in your inbox in the new year. For now, we just wanted to thank you for reading our work and offering your suggestions and reflections. Here’s hoping for an easier semester to come.

Source link

Previous postFAA requests fines against passengers for alleged assaults over masks Next postChicago-area hospital pauses vaccinations after 4 workers experience adverse reactions: report

Chicago Financial Times

Copyright © 2022 Chicago Financial Times

Updates via RSS
or Email