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Back to School COVID Blues


What are your family's options for attending school in the Fall? In many communities, the Fall academic term begins within the next week. Some elementary and high schools have already started a blended approach, involving virtual and in-person classes.

My sisters in the United States, are enrolling their children in remote schooling. They live in communities where the schools have decided that online teaching and learning offer the best choices for the 2020 - 2021 academic year.

Here in Antigua, the semester at the university where I teach is up and running. I am trying to keep up by managing multiple responsibilities at a moderate pace. We have had various changes in my department over the summer, and with the added adjustments to online instruction, it appears that we will meet the demands of a challenging term.

I taught one class last week and another one yesterday. These classes happened live for a small group of students on the island and in the Echo 360 cloud for remote attendees. From the student emails I have received, I believe the content was clear and aligned with instructional design's best practices.

Did you know that it often takes more time to prepare for an online class? It took some serious work to plan for my first lectures to accommodate an online and in-person classroom.

Learning objectives created with awareness of Bloom's Taxonomy, interactive knowledge checks and engaging delivery tactics guided these first classes of the semester. As the term progresses, I will need to continue refining my approaches to become more effective in the blended delivery of lectures. I am confident that my department will provide high quality in-person and online classes this term.

It feels great not to have concerns about my team’s ability to fulfill online teaching and learning requirements. We are committed to the school’s mission of providing students from underserved communities an opportunity to earn a medical degree. The combination of our advanced degrees from multiple disciplines forms a cohesive group.

I feel blessed in my workspace.

At home, my wife and I are concerned about our children’s education options. They currently attend a small private school on the island. Public schools are not an option for non-Antiguan residents. As of Spring 2020, my three children's school did not have the best facilities to manage the COVID crisis.

The school does not always have running water. The Antiguan drought and the infrastructure is not in place to handle the needs of the population. As you know, cleaning your hands is a fundamental behavior that we must do to prevent the coronavirus spread.

Ensuring your hands are clean is critical for children in school environments where germs can roam like your thoughts when participating in a boring staff meeting!

While to date, the virus has not rocked Antigua, similar to other parts of the world, but it has arrived. Today, we have 94 confirmed cases, 88 recovered, and 3 deaths. Yes, our numbers do not compare to the United States or Brazil, but given COVID's lethal potential, we cannot choose to ignore the risk factors that come with crowds and limited sanitation options.

I took my second COVID test last Friday. It’s not a painful procedure, but it is also not pleasurable. The nostril swab is placed up your nose and twisted ten times.

Thankfully, the results came back negative. After my sister’s visit from the States early this month, I worried about my family's exposure. Although she arrived with a negative test, I needed assurance that our health was not compromised.

I have been diligent about limiting my contact with others, washing my hands, wearing a face mask when out in public, and doing most of the things the CDC recommends to prevent spread. This morning I also took an MMR vaccine due to the growing body of research that indicates it can mitigate the worst symptoms of COVID.

We can’t assume that all families have the same resources and the ability to follow prevention protocols.

Although schools serve as pivotal roles in teaching and learning, their potential impact on community spread of the coronavirus makes it challenging to resume classes as usual. We’ve seen evidence of new cases in other parts of the world, due to children returning to school.

With or without a face mask, life is doing a number on anyone who chooses to breathe in 2020.

I'm sure you are aware of cases involving people who follow the precautions, including wearing masks, and somehow still manage to contract the virus. If not, take five minutes and scroll down your social media feed. For these COVID-19 related reasons and others, it isn't easy to send my children back to school in a few weeks.

My wife has an online business that provides copywriting services to women entrepreneurs. She must spend hours in front of her computer to edit web page copy and create content for her clients. If she adds the responsibility of homeschooling to the mix, it will be hard to stay on top of her business and our children's education.

As you know, I don’t want my children to spend more time than necessary on Roblox. In case you missed that memo, I wrote a blog post and created a vlog episode about how to get your kids off Roblox this summer. Yes, I understand Roblox’s entertainment value and the benefits that come with exposing children to technology.

I also do not want my children’s education to be supplemented by video games that do not enhance their abilities to become critical thinkers.

The coronavirus's implications on education are among the challenges my wife and I are facing this week. My schedule requires that I am away from the house for a minimum of 40 hours per week. It isn't easy to find the abundance of time needed to educate three children in multiple grade levels.

We have some difficult decisions to make in the coming weeks.

I know that I do not want my wife to sacrifice her dream at the expense of our children’s limited schooling options. Too many women have made that decision early in their lives to one day wake up with regrets. I don’t want to contribute to future unhappiness.

There must be a viable solution. What types of special arrangements will you need to make for yourself and your children to continue their education? Let’s explore some options together in the comments.


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