THE ATTENDANCE FACTOR
Hey everybody! I hope you and your loved ones are well during this time of self-quarantine and social distancing. Thinking back to last month's blog, I thought about the fact that our daily lives and routines as we knew them were on the verge of a sudden change. And now here we are in the month of April 2020...so much has happened since I wrote last month's post: For the first time that I can ever recall, Easter Sunday Services in many churches across the country were held virtually. The unemployment numbers have sky-rocketed and hit an all-time high. Wearing a face mask when out in public is now the "new normal". And the number of people who've tested positive for COVID-19 as well as the reported fatalities (most notably in Black & Brown communities) are unprecedented. There's no denying the fact that COVID-19 has impacted our way of living.
To add to this, the work that I do daily looks quite different. I've now moved from coaching teachers from inside their classrooms to coaching virtually from home. I still meet with teachers at our scheduled times (they have access to my schedule, so we meet via Zoom as well as through Google Meets). The work that the teachers are doing to address the needs of their students is definitely commendable. I cannot imagine having to change the way instruction looks within a matter of a week or two (literally), but classroom teachers have done just that so I want to take this time to say THANK YOU to Teachers. I also want to thank Superintendents, Principals, Support Staff and all school district employees who have gone above and beyond to help students navigate through this tumultuous time!
As teachers across the country do all they can to help students access lessons through remote learning, one of the things they find challenging is that many of their students are not attending the virtual classroom setting; in fact, some teachers have reported that they have not heard from their students since the last day at school before closures started taking place. Hearing this growing concern brings me to the notion of what I call the Attendance Factor. Student absence from virtual class settings are a challenge for schools across the country. In fact, in an article posted online from chalkbeat.org, one district found that some students are missing out on remote learning due to a lack of internet-enabled devices, babysitting duties, and jobs that are urgently needed as parents’ paychecks vanish. This leaves educators to rely on phone calls, texts, and social media messages to check on absent students who can no longer be cornered in the hallway or visited at home. These new virtual attendance challenges have underscored the difficulty many students face getting to class even under normal circumstances and the vital role schools play in easing those burdens. According to a post in the New York Times (April 6, 2020) that's a stark contrast when you read reports from several selective or affluent schools where close to 100 percent of students are participating in online learning. The dramatic split promises to further deepen the typical academic achievement gaps between poor, middle-class and wealthy students.
Under this week's Intentional Toolkit, I've provided a few articles that discuss the in-depth challenges that school districts face with virtual attendance during COVID-19, additionally I've included information that highlights potential advantages for online learning. As always, I hope you find these resources useful. As we continue to practice social distancing in an effort to avoid the spread of Coronavirus, it's my hope that you stay safe, be well, and until next time, go out there and be GREAT!
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