Editor: Imagine trying to build a school with bricks but no mortar. That’s how Fairfax County Public Schools is trying to get through an overwhelming surge in COVID cases without using “virtual” instruction.
In-person instruction is undeniably better than virtual learning. As a substitute teacher, I’ve experienced the frustration of teaching into the void. As a parent, I’ve marched my own child back to the computer after multiple attempts to hide from school. No one wants a return to virtual instruction indefinitely.
However, the solutions that FCPS is proposing are hardly an improvement over virtual learning. The school district plans to pair classes with one teacher and combine multiple classes for asynchronous instruction (code for worksheets). Having one substitute teacher in a classroom of 50 energetic children is not a recipe for success. Combining multiple classes in the cafeteria or the gym with one monitor is not teaching.
It is challenging for a school district as large as FCPS to craft a nimble solution, but it is possible. As a parent and a sub, I see teachers rise to the occasion with creative solutions to overwhelming problems. We are smart enough to use virtual instruction as mortar between the bricks of in-person classes to educate our children.
With deft use of technology, the school system can remain open while allowing individual schools and classes to revert to virtual learning as-needed.
I call on FCPS to lead families through this public-health crisis effectively and safely with brainpower and ingenuity.
Allyson Walker, Fairfax