As delta rages, schools need to plan for a virtual option this fall
Schools across the nation are floundering again. Many planned to reopen schools this year fully, but the delta variant is disrupting the execution of those plans. Parents are demanding virtual options, but some states are stonewalling funding.
The vaccines have not been approved for use in children under 12 years old, so the CDC recommends students, teachers, and staff wear masks regardless of vaccination status. We expected the virus to stabilize by now, but the delta variant is continuing the uncertainty and making it difficult to make concrete plans.
Over the last two years, we have seen the vast potential of education evolving with technology. In 2020, districts implemented zoom and new Learning Management Systems to adapt to school closures, but we have only scratched the surface on how technology can move education forward.
Now is not the time to return to mandating traditional means of teaching. Families have seen more options to accommodate different learning styles, lifestyles, and health precautions, and want virtual alternatives for the upcoming year.
Children interface with technology from infancy and tech is essential for doing business, yet education systems have not adapted to the changing needs of students. The occasional hour in the computer lab is not enough to prepare our students for real-world work environments.
Additionally, different learning styles have finally gained recognition. Some students learn better from home working at their own pace and some learn better in the classroom. Families need the flexibility to ensure students get the most out of their schooling. It’s time to give them the opportunity to personalize their learning environment.
Education needs an update, and this is our opportunity to evolve. Virtual education is the future, and it’s time to start investing in it.
The delta variant is disrupting plans to resume business as normal because its transmission rates are so high. It can spread like wildfire in a matter of days, so it will be difficult to manage. Having a plan in place will be the key to success for districts. If schools hesitate to make alternative plans, there will be disorder if the delta variant spirals and they are unprepared with no virtual plans again. Setting up reliable virtual infrastructure and training teachers on how to best utilize technology will help educators adjust seamlessly to abrupt changes in plans.
Preparation this time around can prevent uncertainty and lead to student success. Without an action plan, students will be left behind. Scrambling to solve a problem leads to learning loss. Our students deserve better. When a plan of action is ready, everyone feels more secure, and after all we learned from the 2020-21 school year, we cannot ignore these proper precautions.
Ensure your school is adaptable to student needs by advocating for a virtual school option this year. There are three ways to prepare for virtual education: Train your teachers, purchase software, and create written protocols within the district or outsource.
To execute in-house, prioritize training teachers on how to leverage software to make effective lessons. Most software offers its own training videos or teachers can join the National Virtual Teacher Association for certification. Districts can create a consistent zoom class schedule that works for both teachers and students and outfit teachers and students with the tools they need.
To outsource, verify that your virtual provider is trustworthy and has the expertise necessary to lead your program. If the company has good outcomes and renewing clients, you can trust them to run your program while keeping students enrolled in your district.
Virtual education and flexible learning are the future. It is beneficial to districts, teachers, and families to have a plan in place to provide options as the delta variant rages. Keep district funding and move education into the future with your virtual school.
Dr. Michael Robinson is the Vice President of School Partnerships at EdTech company Proximity Learning Inc. He has a passion for public education where he achieved a steadfast progression through a series of management roles. He is knowledgeable in developing and managing the complex implementation of software and services in small, medium, and large school districts. Robinson has over 30 years of experience in the world of education, serving students in reading, mathematics, tutoring, supplemental educational services, and technology. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-403-8477.
More from DA