Possible Newtown School Plan
To the Editor:
What are the two most pressing concerns parents have for their kids this coming school year?
One, the likelihood of having an entire school infected due to the extreme transmissibility of the disease.
And, two, the fact that students don’t learn well from a computer screen alone. (This factor alone may very likely subject an entire school population to a year — maybe two — of substandard education, the effect of which can’t be determined now.)
I propose combining teacher-supervised computer learning with off-site classes.
Here’s what this plan is designed to improve:
1. To completely eliminate the almost certain likelihood of contagion of an entire school, by breaking up each grade into class sizes manageable by one or two student teachers. Then moving each of these classes off-site to eliminate the spread of disease in schools from air and surface contamination in halls, passageways, gathering places, entrances/exits, etc.
2. To vastly improve computer learning by employing a master teacher for each grade, working from the syllabus. This experienced teacher would lead each class along with the student teacher(s) either on site, if there’s only one class, or by using a remote TV if there are multiple classes in a grade. The combination of a master teacher, having assistant teacher(s) in the same room as the students, for each class could turn out to be the single most important factor enabling students to learn their lessons well.
Three advantages of this plan:
One, if one of the off-site classes becomes infected, only that group would need to be quarantined. The entire school would not be infected and/or be in imminent danger of becoming infected. An infected school would be catastrophic!
Two, having a master teacher on or off-site working from the syllabus would guarantee kids would be learning the correct lessons, the correct way. On site assistant teachers would guarantee students don’t fall between the cracks and that their students have been given the opportunity to learn the material. (And, not insignificantly, it would relieve parents from staying at home watching over their kids’, supervising lessons they may, but probably don’t, completely understand themselves.)
Three, this plan would enable the school to operate for the entire school year. Not just one semester.
In closing, there are, obviously, a myriad of logistical, busing, financial, and physical space issues to be solved for something this complex. But, they’re all solvable in time for the new school year and these solutions could be accomplished in an economically feasible way: volunteer groups from Business Schools — not educators — could identify and suggest best solutions for logistical, and financial issues. And, of course, student teachers would fill the essential on-site teaching gap.
I think this plan — or some variation — may be the best short-term solution to these seemingly intractable problems. And, it might be more realistic and safer than our state’s current plan.
26 Pleasant Hill Road, Newtown July 1, 2020