Daily we calculate the impact of the pandemic on people, on the economy and on education.
The last of those topics may very well be the last to recover. The vaccine is on the horizon for most of us and will gradually put the personal fear of contracting the coronavirus behind us. The economy has been slowed and jobs lost, but a resurgence in activity is expected when the pandemic is “cured.”
Regaining what has been lost in education isn’t as simple.
Earlier this week Cochise County Schools Superintendent Jacqui Clay distributed a list of the status of school districts. Many, including Sierra Vista, are listed as “distance” learning only, meaning that students are not receiving in-person instruction and instead are learning remotely through online classes. Others, including Benson, are offering a “hybrid” version, mixing in-person, distance and part-time options for parents.
Cochise County has a significant challenge in its ability to accomplish distance learning. Our rural and rugged landscape makes it difficult to offer reliable broadband internet service throughout the county. This immediately impairs families unable to acquire and/or afford the service necessary for online education.
We’re also asking more from our teachers. Crafting curriculum for in-person and online instruction and learning on-the-job the techniques of teaching remotely has added workload and immeasurable stress to professionals who are responsible for the education of our children.
The consequences are yet to be accurately measured. We simply don’t know how attendance has been affected, we don’t know where students are academically, compared to where they should be if the pandemic had not happened, and we don’t have a plan at this juncture for how to “make up” the lessons lost.
Now more than ever it’s vital that parents play an aggressive role in assuring the education of their children. If distance learning is the only available option, make sure your student or students are online when they are supposed to be in class. If internet service is either unaffordable or unreliable, reach out to community resources to identify possible solutions.
The impact of a failure in our education system inspires outcomes that are potentially fatal to our way of life. We’re seeing the serious erosion of faith in our institutions, belief in fallacies over science and the rise of extremism in our political system.
Education is the only tool that can preserve our republic and assure the continuation of a system of government that has survived more than 240 years.
Like everyone else, we have hope that the pandemic will soon be behind us and life as we knew it prior to the coronavirus will return to a semblance of normalcy. Until then, it’s vital that parents work even harder at ensuring the instruction of their children and that as a community we recognize the need to invest in steps that support education.
More than ever, education is a vital concern for all of us.