No Stardusters. No That’s Entertainment! No Spring sports or activities. Little to no recognition of other honors like the academic letters presentation ceremony. There is so much that hasn’t taken place this Spring.
The CCCHS Class of 2020 has sure missed a lot in the last eight or so weeks of school. And they aren’t the only ones. Students throughout the district, from pre-schoolers to high-schoolers have missed hands-on learning and enrichment opportunities from weather week for pre-school cubs to frog dissection in biology class for high schoolers.
Field trips weren’t taken. Prom didn’t take place, though a few a parents say it’s only been post-poned -- they’ll figure out a way for those kids to have that experience with things loosen up this summer or fall. Positive Addictions at the middle-school was cancelled, and the school did not collect the donations that the city and county approved for t-shirts for the event.
We commend teachers and administrators for stepping up and doing everything they can to make online learning not just work, but make it a unique experience kids won’t forget for the rest of their lives. We commend parents for taking on the challenge too -- because while online opportunities have kept kids on track, it wouldn’t have worked without parent intervention.
But let’s be realistic. Online learning can’t replace in-person classes and pale in comparison to interactions and learning that takes place at a school. There’s a reason online-only degrees aren’t taken very seriously.
Kids haven’t just missed a lot of learning, they all missed the social interactions with other kids and people outside their household that are also an integral part of growing up. There is something to be said for learning something new from someone who isn’t related to you.
Restrictions that were put in place because of the coronavirus are just beginning to be lifted, but it will be awhile before things get back to normal. Kansas universities are planning to reopen campuses for in-person classes and student housing in the fall -- but those class will look different, as they are also preparing for a re-emergence of the virus. Professors will be expected to quickly move classes online if they have too.
That threat of re-emergence has already cast doubt on whether K-12 schools will reopen in the fall and whether fall sports and other extracurricular activities will take place this year.
We hope that isn’t the case. Kids will already be behind when they go back in the fall. No matter what schools do to catch them up and recoup what they didn’t receive this spring -- kids simply won’t be able to get back all that they lost this spring, and some will be more behind than others, as online learning hasn’t exactly been equitable. The divide and downward slide will only worsen the longer kids don’t get back to school.
We urge the state, the district and Gov. Kelly to reopen schools as soon as they can and do everything they can to keep them open even with a re-emergence of the virus. If possible, we also urge them to give extra aid to kids to help them get back on track -- even if that means some kind of summer session for everyone.
Yes, the coronavirus is dangerous. It has killed 157 and hospitalized 657 in Kansas alone (as of Friday, according to KDHE). The number of confirmed cases climbed to just under 7,000 according to most currently data from KDHE, including four in Clay County. We do not doubt that closing schools helped mitigate those numbers and save lives.
But our kids also missed out on a lot because of it. At some point, the cost becomes too high, particularly when it impacts the future.
-- Ryan D. Wilson