WHAT TO DO ABOUT SCHOOL THIS FALL?
What young people are saying about the upcoming school semester
What to do about the upcoming school year is one of the most fraught discussions many parents—and students—are having right now. But we at Cassandra wanted to hear from those most affected: the students themselves. We’ve asked Gen Zs and Millennials from our Cassandra Collective to share their opinions on school safety, online versus in-person learning, and what would help them the most this fall. The insights below are based on our digital discussions, which were held at the beginning of this week.
THE SAFETY/RISK TRADE-OFF
Many youth in the Cassandra Collective voiced concerns about the safety of returning to in-person learning this fall. In addition, they are skeptical about schools’ abilities to maintain social distancing and cleanliness compliance.
- “I don't trust my classmates to follow precautions and be clean [because] schools transmit lots of germs even when it's not a pandemic.” – Seth, 16, PA
- “It is basically impossible to socially distance in schools, especially [among] kids and those in earlier grades. It is a matter of time before there is a huge outbreak that has devastating effects.” – Aleks, 27, VA
- “I would be very worried if students go back to school as normal even with face masks [and] gloves: [Covid-19] will still spread easily from all the touching students do.” – Robert, 29, WI
- “It is a risk, but for the sake of children's education I think it is a necessary one to take.” – Jen, 32, CT
WHAT SCHOOLS ARE DOING AND WHAT YOUTH WANT TO SEE
As the start of the school year kicks off, many are reporting that their districts are doing blended learning options, as well as fully virtual education, at least for the time being.
- “My school is staying closed for the fall term. I don't really think it is that bad that they are staying closed for nearly the entire year.” – Kyler, 21, OR
- “I am doing online schooling with a different district and I have 1-on-1 learning so I feel supported.” – Maliyah, 15, OK
- “I think schools should implement social distancing and if possible have classes done online versus in-person. I think it's important that these institutions take this pandemic very seriously.” – Daphne, 34, CA
- “I'm not a student or a parent but I'm quite frankly shocked at how many people are okay with sending their children back to school this fall. The pandemic is still happening and I guarantee you case counts will spike a few weeks after schools reopen. If I was a student or parent, I would not want to go back/not let my student go back if they were holding in-person classes. I would enroll them in virtual school for the year. I'm not sacrificing my family's health like that.” – Melissa, 22, FL
REMOTE LEARNING JUST ISN’T AS RIGOROUS
34% of 13-17 year olds agree that remote learning is not as rigorous as in-classroom learning.* With the new school year looming, many continue to express concerns that enough hasn’t been done to support children and families and develop effective learning strategies.
- “I hope that this year the curriculum will actually be planned [to] work with online learning. Everything that happened last year was so sudden and I felt like nobody knew what they were doing. I hope that at least this year online classes will actually seem put together. I also hope that [students] still have access to things like free lunch and other programs that they would get normally.” – Melissa, 22, FL
- “I don't think that students are provided with the necessary tools to go back to school. I think a lot of families have been negatively affected by this pandemic and don't have the financial means to support and provide for their children. That could include school supplies, masks, [etc.]. I would like all students who are going back to school to be provided with free lunches and masks to wear every day so that they don't have to worry about the necessities and can just concentrate on schooling.” – Daphne, 34, CA
- “I think [schools] may also need to make sure all children have access to a laptop or desktop, [especially] for lower income families, and [they should] offer virtual tutoring” – Chermaine, 31, GA
*Source: ENGINE Caravan