In a utopian world…
1- If the government / your company was to pay you 70% of your salary or self employed earning so that one parent could take care of their children home schooling / remote learning, would you do it ?
2- Or would you prefer to keep on working and send your kids to school in the midst of a pandemic ?
3- Would you take this as a concession or would you welcome it?
In favor of sending kids back to pre-school / middle school
If we have to take water from one vessel to pour into the other in order to maintain a balance of “acceptable” transmission, infection and death rate in a risk equation, then obviously taking the water out of the bar / restaurant / club vessel to pour it into the kids school vessel is a no brainer. But other more essential activities, like mass transit, could be a trickier equation.
Also, as much as I want to believe that kids aren’t really transmitting the virus, and as written about at the onset of the lockdown that keeping pre-schools open undoubtedly is grounds for keeping society as we know it functioning at its essential level, I also can’t help but to think about all the adults workers involved there from teachers to staff, in rather close contact with kids daily, can pose a moral problem.
With all the money that’s been thrown out the windows as urgency and panic dictated sending millions of checks to dead people, lunatic ordering millions of dollars of useless medicine, to bailing out huge corporations like airline companies instead of the people, to wasted money flowing endlessly to feed a speculative stock market amongst the wealthiest (and others as we are finding out) because they have nothing else to do or to invest their money in – I am sure the government has the means to make such payment to each parent who would need it. It is entirely possible. But unfortunately not the society we live in. Once again, helping the people vs. corporations, doesn’t seem to be on our governments’ agendas. It has never trickled down, and even less likely to do so in the future now. Not to mention the whole federal vs state problem here, maybe it is something that governors could implement at their level. A city like NYC could need it more than a remote town in Oregon. In the end though, it seems to not make much difference how densely a place is populated, if the virus has creeped in, without constant monitoring and preventive measures (social distancing, masks and hand hygiene) it will go on to infect the small town just like the big one. And we can wonder seeing the fatigue of people after having to implement this new lifestyle for 3 months, how will they not let their guards down after 6 months, a year or more of this.
In favor of keeping high school and universities as remote learning (for the most part)
The problem with children is that they need supervision. But any kid older than 13-14 years old can handle being at home on their own. I’m not saying its ideal but it isn’t such a big problem as to parents still being able to go to work without them needing to supervise them, nor school to supervise them. Latch kids have done ok in this world so far, tending to be more independent. The school environment is good for development for most kids, but not all.
As far as online learning, likewise, it has its good and bad. Some kids prefer it, some school subjects better suited than others, its a balance. Surely online schools can be improved. Once again, if the government was to invest in schools, then surely they could hire the best of Silicon Valley to come up with software or apps that would turn online school into a better experience. But no, instead they’ve been spending the last 4 months preparing for election. And greasing up the cronies.
Its clear that a dual approach or even multiple approaches could be more beneficial than a one for all solution here.
If the government were to give parents of small children the choice of either getting their salary compensated at 70% in order for one of them to stay home to home school their kid, that would allow the remaining work force (essential workers) that don’t have a choice then to send their kids at school to do so in much smaller classes. That could solve so many problems at once, from less commuting, to the most obvious, keeping everyone safer making their own choices.
For universities, it seems like the price of tuition in this country is just insane, starting young adults off with a load of debt at the start of their lives isn’t worth the trouble of pursuing the campus model. And I don’t say this lightly. Myself been considering going back to school next year for the benefits of being physically there rather than taking virtual classes, learning in a classroom from a professor and your peers, the social experience, I was really looking forwards to it. But I can’t help to question all the prices we have to pay for that and if in the end, at this time, it is worth it. More so, taking the water from one vessel to the other to keep an acceptable balance of transmission, the benefit of being able to send some of the children to pre schools and schools are more crucial then those of sending students back to universities.
* Update 07/08/20 : this is such a brilliant idea for universities (as well as high school), to adopt for the time being and perhaps the future, the classical tutorial model of learning online one to one with a professor (or few students). The active learning versus passive experience of an auditorium where students tend to just scroll on their phones while listening with one ear (and likewise passively watching a tutorial video) is highly more effective and therefore takes much less time. It is work for everyone, but the quality improves drastically. Aside from english universities, this model has always been used for music tuition as well. Its an old and tested model that I’m not sure why we have let go off through times. The author of this article argues that this model would justify the universities high tuition price. I still think that US schools are just silly expensive, setting you off in life on the wrong foot loaded with debt, but some middle ground could be found in experimenting with this good solution for remote learning during the pandemic