As the debate over how to safely reopen schools for full-time instruction rages on, school boards and districts should look no further than private schools and day-care facilities on how to reopen safely. With children languishing behind hours of screen time while the institutions charged with educating them remain virtual, parents and students deserve to know why privately funded programs can offer safe, in-person services while our public programs cannot.
One district that may want to take a page out of its neighboring programs’ playbook is the South Bay Union School District, which serves Imperial Beach and South San Diego. SBUSD has been closed to in-person learning for more than a year and recently decided that it is still too unsafe to go back to school. Meanwhile, in the same community, the Boys and Girls Club in Imperial Beach has been offering the Back2School Distance Learning Club throughout this same period. This program is just one example of many full-time, in-person programs open during the COVID-19 pandemic to support working families’ children with in-person academic, social and structural support so that they can flourish while schools remain virtual.
With growing examples of schools reopening safely coupled with educational staffs’ prioritization for the vaccine — and the extensive evidence of the academic, physical, social, emotional and economic harm that school closures have imposed on children and families — it is unconscionable that any district would even consider keeping its students in a distance-learning model. Now more than ever, districts like the South Bay Union School District, their boards of trustees and their corresponding unions need to come together and address the extensive harm that has occurred to children’s education and family situations during this pandemic.