GUEST COLUMN: Schools should have been better prepared for the pandemic

Randy Greene

The pandemic caught us all by surprise. Many persons, industries and public entities were not ready, but they should have been. Critical Industries, like banks and hospitals, are required to have a pandemic plan in place. It seems like schools should have been better prepared, but they were not.

That aside, it is now been eight weeks since teachers and students were ordered out of their classrooms. Just this week, my children received assignments for the week that took them approximately two hours to complete. In the process of their two hours of work, they learned nothing new. In fact, in a “coffee chat” on May 20, Superintendent Erin MacGregor revealed the results of a survey in which teachers estimated they were providing less than three hours of school a week for elementary students to complete.

Howell Public Schools are failing our students. Students are going to advance to the next grade having missed critical instruction for more than 25 percent of the school year. In normal times, students who miss too much school aren’t able to advance to the next grade. Because every day of education is deemed so critical, schools must make up days if they closed too many times for snow emergencies. Yet now schools are poised to advance children who haven’t been adequately educated during the months of March, April, May and June.

In 2015, voters approved a $12.5 million bond for Howell Public Schools for technology improvements. With the technology available, teachers should be able and be expected to prepare lessons that can be posted to YouTube or another video service. Modern technology allows for Zoom meetings with a virtual whiteboard. There are so many ways teachers can prepare lessons so that students may continue their learning, yet that doesn’t seem to be happening.

Students are now facing the possibility of having some or all of their education online next year. We cannot lose another year of education by allowing school districts to provide three hours of work in place of a 30-hour school week.

Our schools can and must do better.

Randy Greene of Howell is parent with children in the Howell Public Schools District, as well as a member of the Howell City Council.

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