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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Gov. Newsom Outlines Strict Guidelines For Schools

Speaker 1: 00:00 Governor Gavin Newsome's guidelines on school reopenings will require all San Diego County school districts to continue distance learning and forego in person classes. As long as the County stays on the state's watch list. San Diego is one of 33 counties being monitored by the state because of an increase in the spread of COVID-19. Speaker 2: 00:22 We are now putting forth guidelines that say based on the data, based upon the background, spread the community spread of the virus, uh, that if you are not on that monitoring list, you can move forward as a County. Uh, if you choose, Speaker 1: 00:40 If the County meets the targets to get off the watch list for 14 consecutive days, districts can work with County health officials to see if reopening is possible for counties that can reopen classrooms. Strict guidelines were announced today, including all children, third grade and up and school staff be required to wear masks and schools must maintain six feet of physical distance between teachers and students today. Governor Newsome made the case that it's too risky to bring kids back to school in person while COVID-19 is still uncontrolled, but educators and psychologist warn keeping kids at home for online learning is not without its risks. In addition to feelings of loneliness and isolation, some students may be pulled into family conflicts, may struggle to learn at home and even be subject to abuse. Joining me with more on the challenges of a new semester of online classes in San Diego is my guest Alison Wishart Garah and associate professor at UC San Diego's department of education studies who focuses on child development. Speaker 1: 01:47 Alison, welcome to the program. Thank you. It's so nice to speak with you. What do you see as the potential impacts of continuing online education on school aged children? I think the potential impacts are, um, multi-pronged we, there are potential negative impacts on academic learning, our learning loss, as many people have been speaking about, there are also some potential, uh, risks or negative impacts on social, emotional learning and development. However, in speaking with teachers and parents, there are also some potential benefits that families are experiencing in terms of reconnection time at home. Um, some children actually experienced a lot of stress from being in school. So having this time away from school has a potential to, um, give some benefits from D schooling or reconnecting with, with family. Uh, the bottom line though, it's really complicated and the impacts will be a differential. They will not be the same for all children and all families. And it will largely depend on the individual circumstances of the children and their families. So there is a social impact. There's an emotional impact on kids. What effect could classes have on the achievement gap? Speaker 3: 03:01 When I think about the impact on academic development and academic trajectories, what I spend most of my time thinking about is what are we going to do to support academic development? When we have the opportunity to bring kids back in person with teachers and their peers to create that, that community of learning in the classroom. Um, if we take this time to think really carefully about how we do schooling and to align the way we do schooling with what we know from developmental science, I think there's a potential to, to mitigate those, that academic learning loss. Um, pretty effectively, if we continue to maintain status quo operations of how schools have always run, which we know are, um, not necessarily equitable and don't necessarily support all children in the same types of ways, we are likely to see a significant widening of the achievement cap, an increase in issues around equity, for which children are, um, achieving in school, which children are completing the requirements to go to college, et cetera. Speaker 1: 04:11 You were saying that some students actually thrive in an online learning environment who are those. Speaker 3: 04:17 So we have been talking with teachers, colleagues of mine in education studies and in neuroscience and cognitive science at UCFC. We've been running a longitudinal interdisciplinary study with Vista unified school districts. And so we've had an opportunity to speak with teachers and with parents and, um, to see how, how they're faring during this time, we ran some teacher focus groups in the spring, and the teachers talked with us about how some of their kids who had been very, um, shy and maybe intimidated in the classroom, not the first ones to raise their hands. That those children were actually thriving in this online environment that, um, that it was really catering to some of their strengths. Whereas the social environment of the classroom, um, had them withdrawing a bit more. And they said that actually some of their children live in more, uh, boisterous or outgoing kids. Those were the ones that were having a harder time with the virtual learning space. Speaker 1: 05:18 And you shared with us, you have two kids at home or taking classes online. Now what's been your experience. Speaker 3: 05:24 Yeah. We have my two daughters going into fifth and seventh grade. Their school did an incredible job with, from day one, having daily, uh, online synchronous class meetings. And they really focused on connection with the kids. And I really appreciated that because they really prioritize the wellbeing of children and maintaining that classroom community and connection. Um, but it's been one of, you know, a mixed bag. There have been positive things and things that are really challenging. I have a daughter who struggles with depression and the emotional, uh, mental health. And that has been really hard for her. Um, another daughter who struggles with dyslexia that has been easier to continue to maintain support with one-on-one meetings, with her special ed teacher and tutor. Um, so I think like other parents that are things that have been really, really hard and other things that have are building really important resiliencies in them. And what Speaker 1: 06:22 Is your major concern? If a in-person schooling is suspended indefinitely because of Colgate? Speaker 3: 06:30 My major concern is the lack of support that families are likely to continue experiencing. Um, I think school districts and schools need to stop and think about how can they support teachers and how can they support families. Um, given the circumstances that we're under. And I don't think that focusing our emphasis on meeting academic standards is the way to do that. So if we can re de deploy teacher efforts and school efforts on connecting with families, helping families get the support that they need. Um, a lot of teachers talk about making daily phone calls to their parents and relieve some of that pressure from teachers to make sure that they're meeting those state standards and academic standards. I think that's going to be in the best interest of children and families in the long run and actually enable children to come back and to regain any losses in academic achievement that they might have experienced during this time. Speaker 1: 07:31 I've been speaking with Alison Wishart Garah and associate professor at UC San Diego's department of education studies and a developmental psychologist. And Alison, thank you so much for speaking with us. Speaker 3: 07:43 Thank you so much for having me.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out strict criteria Friday for school reopenings that makes it unlikely the vast majority of districts will have classroom instruction in the fall as the coronavirus pandemic surges
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