NYT: How Remote Learning Is Breaking Parents

Ross shared this piece in the NYTimes about how parents are struggling to balance working from home with their children’s educational needs:

Parental engagement has long been seen as critical to student achievement, as much as class size, curriculum and teacher quality. That has never been more true than now, and all across the country, moms and dads pressed into emergency service are finding it one of the most exasperating parts of the pandemic.

With teachers relegated to computer screens, parents have to play teacher’s aide, hall monitor, counselor and cafeteria worker — all while trying to do their own jobs under extraordinary circumstances. Essential workers are in perhaps the toughest spot, especially if they are away from home during school hours, leaving just one parent, or no one at all, at home when students need them most.

Once things start to reopen I get the feeling that tutoring is going to be a HUGE boom industry over the Summer.

Now, it certainly could be worse. Those of us who have the means to keep our children engaged and online and doing SOMETHING educational have a huge leg up on families who don’t have the means or infrastructure to access the internet or computer needs to continue education at home. And that’s a disparity that’ll have to be addressed, both when students return to the classroom in the fall and systems figure out how to get everyone back on track but also long term so we can be prepared should something like this happen again.

Pro Tip In The Time Of COVID #1

PRO TIP: Don’t take reopen advice from any “experts” who:

– 6 weeks ago predicted 20,000 total US deaths

– 4 weeks ago dismissed models as absurd because there was no way New York would reach 12,000 deaths by 4/15 (they reached 11,900)

– Attacks pre-social distancing modeling for showing 100,000-200,000 deaths yet we’re “only” at 58,000 (despite social distancing – and we’re not done yet)

– Generally dismissed COVID-19 as “just the flu”

Now, yes, there is room for taking this seriously AND believing that the extent of social distancing may have gone too far or that we’re at a point where we should consider our options when it comes to taking steps to getting some businesses open and folks back to work, but this was clearly more than “just the flu” and treating it as such would have made things a whole lot worse.

Bonus Tip: Anyone who outright dismissed social distancing from the beginning shouldn’t be listened to on how we should start the process for reopening.

Yes, Virginia, The Distancing Is Working

Despite social distancing measures in place in Virginia, despite the shutdown of non-essential businesses, despite everything we’ve all been sacrificing to keep COVID-19 in check, VA still reported it’s largest jump in confirmed cases today with 864 new positive tests.

Let’s say we’ve decreased overall social interactions by 80% – could you imagine the panic if 4,000 cases were being reported today? After 2,500 yesterday? Or 3,000 the day before?

And that’s IF we could get testing capacity to stay above 2,500. Which we can’t seem to do.

This thing still has a 3.4% fatality rate among confirmed cases. That’s more than 320 lives that would be lost if we had 9,500 new cases in the last few days instead of 2,000.

That’s more than 100 new fatalities a day and a curve still aiming for the sky.

The further flattening of the curve and declining projection of fatalities isn’t a sign of failure or fake news – it’s a sign of SUCCESS!

Yes, one can argue if the measures have gone too far and whether or not we should have a plan to reopen and what that can look like.

But we can’t pretend this wouldn’t have been much worse, or that we’re out of the woods yet.

To those that have stuck to their guns and stayed home, THANK YOU! You’re helping keep my family and friends safe and healthy.

Let’s keep on this together so we can get out of it sooner.


Why the sudden outburst from your friendly neighborhood Jason? I’m sick of seeing people point to a lack of resource shortages, the availability of beds, the extended peak and curve, the lack of deaths as some sort of “told you this wasn’t a big deal!”

Despite treating this like a big deal, hundreds of Virginians are dead, hundreds are still in the ICU and on ventilators, thousands are sick with hundreds more being reported daily, assisted living facilities RAVAGED, and all from something that is clearly not “just the flu.”

There are going to be long term economic consequences of this, and they are going to hurt, but the economic disaster of an overwhelmed healthcare system and a populace afraid to step outside and a government not taking this seriously would do far more damage.

We’ll bounce back. And, thankfully, thousands of folks who will be alive because of the decisions and sacrifices made today will be part of that recovery.


UPDATE: Test results take time, anywhere from 2-8 days, so positive results from this morning may reflect reality over a range of time.

By averaging over the last 2 weeks or 1 week we can see a bit more of the continuing upward trend.

In the chart below, red is the One Week Average, blue is the Two Week Average.

Since April 1st, the 2 Week Average has NEVER declined. The 1 Week Average has only seen single digit one-day drops that adjust back up the next day.

Why is this significant? Because the results of a single day is just noise and not reflective of an actual single day snapshot in the Commonwealth. But by running averages we can get a feel for trends given how results take X days to come back. Say we have a series of low days and one really high day of positive results – if the average is still LOWER than the proceeding days or weeks, we’re trending downward overall and that’s a win.

As long as this trend continues to rise, we still have a growing problem in Virginia.

Coronavirus and eLearning

As people champion the idea of more schools and universities exploring online classes in the face of coronavirus, it’s a good time to remember that not everyone has at home access to the equipment and technology necessary to participate.

Computers, internet, webcams, this stuff isn’t magically available for everyone. Yes, MOST people have these things at home, but those that don’t are more often than not those who need access to education the most.

And if we get to this point, it’s not like libraries are going to be a viable option.

Problem is, should we get to the point of schools closing, then what’s the solution? Aside from saying “school’s out!”?

Related: Many Districts Won’t Be Ready For Remote Learning If Coronavirus Closes Schools

Many students across the country are equipped with tablets and computers provided by their schools. More than half of 300 school IT leaders who responded to a 2019 Consortium of School Networking (CoSN) survey said their districts have at least begun moving towards 1:1 programs in which each student has a device to complete assignments during the school day and at home.

But that leaves out many school districts where such devices aren’t provided, as well as many students, particularly in rural areas and from low-income backgrounds, for whom home access to the internet or a personal digital device is out of reach.

Some school leaders haven’t yet figured out how they would maintain the flow of learning if school needs to close for an extended period of time. Sal Pascarella, the superintendent of Danbury Public Schools in Connecticut, is resigned to accept that students won’t be able to access new concepts or learning materials if they’re stuck at home for more than a few days.

“Our school district would not be able to sustain in a meaningful way substantive teaching in the content area on a platform like teleteaching,” Pascarella said.

Of the district’s 12,000 students, 52 percent are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, and school resources are tight, Pascarella said. Some of the district’s high schools have begun developing e-learning capabilities more generally, he said, but elementary and middle schools are further behind. Developing bilingual programs for the district’s substantial population of English-language learners has also been a challenge, he said.