Tuesday October 6, 2020

We can all help get kids back in classrooms

Mask Up, OKC. We need our kids back in school safely and quickly.

Oklahoma City Public Schools continues to make plans for getting students back in school on a rotating schedule, but rising COVID case counts have made the start date difficult to pin down.

In the meantime, challenges remain for our students, families and school staffs as they navigate a 100% virtual learning world that is far from perfect. Keeping young children engaged and attentive is not an easy task in an in-person classroom, even though so many teachers make it seem effortless. Teachers are doing their best to keep this engagement through a computer screen, but it is no small feat.

Ensuring that older students are logging on consistently is not only important for graduation requirements, but as a way to check on their welfare.

We know the difficult situations many of our students face at home are exacerbated during the pandemic. Financial stresses due to job losses or reduction in hours are affecting many families, adding to food insecurity, mental health issues and trauma.

School is the safe place for many kids and that has been taken away.

Despite the challenges, creativity is taking many forms throughout the district. Teachers are still reaching out to students and families regularly, albeit through phone calls, texts and emails. Truancy officers are still working to track down the students who haven’t been heard from all year. Encouragement is coming from all levels, including a teacher/principal band at Capitol Hill High School singing to students on social media, “You Should Probably Go to Class.”

Efforts to maintain normalcy in a time when nothing is really normal is pushing everyone to the limit, but also proves how resilient humans are. Teachers and district leaders are showing up every day for their kids. Kids who are faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles are finding ways to stay positive.

A poem sent to the Foundation for OKCPS by a 6th grader along with her ReadOKC reading log from the Summer Reading Challenge shows just how amazing our kids are. She says, in part:

“Each step we take leads to the great. Yes, it’s hard, with ups and downs. But, with a smile, a grin, a twinkle, a beam … you will get through anything.”

The least we can do as a community is our part by wearing a mask, washing our hands and social distancing whenever possible.

Read the original Oklahoman editorial here.

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