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K–12 schools have implemented technologies to be able to safely open for in-person instruction and remain open.
FREMONT, CA: As of mid-April, countries all over the globe had shut down all their primary and secondary schools, impacting almost 1.6 billion children. The change to remote learning has been uneven. Some systems can train teachers, release remote learning, and place student support services in less than a week. Others are still battling, constrained by lack of access to technology. The disparity is true between countries; it is also true within them. Given that K–12 education is predominantly a local responsibility, students can live relatively near each other yet face several prospects.
Teachers already use educational software and apps. So it was slightly seamless for them. The vast majority of technology leveraged in education goes with a skilled, in-person teacher, and that's what's missing. So even in these places that know what they are doing, and have teachers who have been trained for years in how to utilize technology well and do online learning in the classroom, are still battling because they are missing that key in-person element, which is the communication with kids, peer-to-peer interactions, all of that stuff that a teacher knows how to do and that they just cannot do very well online.
As the initial coronavirus curve flattens, school systems require making hard choices on when and how to reopen schools, for which populations, and with what set of health and safety protocols. As they do this, a different set of students and staff may emerge—those living with elderly or immune-compromised families and those who are especially susceptive to infection themselves.
Technologically-advanced systems can roll out synchronous and asynchronous online learning; less developed ones are leveraging a combination of television, radio, paper packets, and cell phones. Some are battling to offer even that, and their students will have considerable catching up to do. The imperative right now is to get remote learning to as many students as possible, with extra attention to the most vulnerable students and schools.
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