Last week I sent out a newsletter with some informal thoughts on Covid and schools; today I have a few more formal things to share.
Today in The New Republic I wrote about the shift from the spring’s rosy optimism around in-person learning, to what we have now, which is an unfortunately chaotic, anxious and threatening back-to-school season.
How’d we get here?
Now while some have undoubtedly been warning about this for months, by and large the expectation was that with ample time for vaccinations and replenished budgets to spend on Covid-19 mitigation, safe in-person learning was in reach, at least by the 2021-22 school year. Some leaders were so confident in the trajectory of the virus that they announced back in May that virtual learning would be no longer an option come fall.
Then Delta came. And more polarized masking politics. And more CDC screw ups. And lower-than-hoped vaccination rates. And new questions about needing boosters. And general resistance to mandating vaccinations.
Many school districts have avoided putting remote contingency plans in place, still hoping that somehow everything will work out like they hoped. Others are scrambling this month to figure it out, with students no doubt to pay the price for sluggish action.
It’s a huge bummer that we’re not at tunnel’s end yet, but… we’re not.
For those who might be new to this newsletter, I thought I’d share the other major pieces I’ve reported on Covid and schools over the last year:
Why Reopening Schools Has Become the Most Fraught Debate of the Pandemic (American Prospect, October, 2020)
As Virus Surges, New Studies Suggest Warning for School Reopening
(The Intercept, January 2021)
Biden’s Goal to Open Most Schools in 100 Days Is Not a Long Shot
(Bloomberg Businessweek, February 2021)
Inside the Long, Messy Year of Reopening Schools
(The New Republic, March 2021)
I also recommend reading Chalkbeat, an invaluable news source for me and I think has had consistently excellent schools coverage throughout the pandemic.
Thanks for reading and supporting this work,