Loudoun County Public Schools will now be 100 percent distance learning in the fall. This was a no-win situation for the School Board, but the basic fact is they can’t guarantee the safety of the children, teachers and administration. We are seeing it everywhere — schools cannot open safely.
So, what now?
The first thing most parents are concerned about is how will this impact my child’s chance to succeed. If you have a junior, this is the year that colleges look at when accepting students. If you have a kindergartner, the vision you had of your child starting school has changed dramatically. If you have a child with special needs, how are these needs going to be met? Every parent has a concern that their child is going to fall behind. The reality is that some will not do well and some will thrive; just as it is in regular school.
These are unknown times. No one knows how long this is going to last; some say until there is a vaccine, and some say until Nov. 4 after the elections. Everyone has opinions, but no one has facts since we haven’t dealt with this before. Loudoun County is not the only area this is impacting. Colleges will be considering the current circumstances when looking at the junior year of your child. Schools will do their best to keep the educational progress moving forward. Parents will need to be more involved than ever to help their children succeed.
This is going to shine a hard light on inequality in society — the “haves” and the “have nots.” Don’t roll your eyes and skip this section, because I am not a socialist. It is a basic fact that we will see a divide here. Those who have money will pursue private education opportunities. It may be private schools or in-home tutors. They do this so they can continue to work to be able to make the money to pay their bills and have the ability to absorb the extra cost. There will be those who can’t afford these options. What will they do? Some will let their children be home and trust they will “attend” school. It is all they can do. Some can’t leave kids at home because they are too young or have special needs. They are now trying to decide if they need to quit their jobs to stay home with the kids. And if they do this, will they be able to pay their rent or mortgage? In most cases this puts the family in a precarious situation financially. Financial stress can cause other issues like domestic, child or substance abuse. Parents may be forced to find someone they can afford to watch their kids, which could be an unsafe environment.
Has Loudoun County Public Schools and the general government stepped back and considered this and what they can do during these unknown times?
Loudoun County has a large Parks and Recreations Department that runs daycares, after-school care and camps. Would this be a chance for them to step in and assist parents with current needs? In-home daycares take time to set up. Could Loudoun County speed up the process to allow in-home learning centers to prevent situations where people watching children are off-the-grid? Can our churches provide learning services to help fill the gap?
It is times like these when creativity is a must. It is time for the community, local government and organizations to work together so more children can obtain a successful education during these trying times.
Christie Morgan is a Purcellville resident and grandmother to a first-grade student and second-grade student.