This article was posted April 17, 2020 as a press release on the AMAC.us website. It was written by AMAC Foundation board member John Grimaldi, and contains this subtitle: “Parents and grandparents need to know and to help, says AMAC.” The article takes on the relevant topic of home-based education during the COVID-19 pandemic, and offers suggestions and resources that parents and grandparents can use to “help their youngsters get through the new reality they face.” Given the unfamiliar territory the pandemic has placed many of us in, our Foundation editorial staff felt that the information would be of benefit to its site visitors. The full article follows.
WASHINGTON, DC – Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. more and more schools at all levels of education have been shutting down in favor of online classes due to the coronavirus crisis. “It’s a concern for families that virtual schools may not be effective enough to serve the needs of 21st Century learners,” says Rebecca Weber, CEO of the Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC].
Students are complaining about a variety of issues ranging from technical problems to access complications to accountability and grading rules. And, Weber worries that the short time in which schools and colleges had to establish Internet based classrooms combined with the uncertain future of the pandemic will exacerbate the situation.
“Ever since the remote learning protocol was put in place, it feels like my whole senior year came to a halt due to the lack of communication and organization at my school, and if the situation is this bad at a relatively well funded public school, I can’t imagine what it’s like at lower-income schools across the city,” according to Giuseppe Lombardo, a senior at a highly rated mid-town Manhattan high school.
Lombardo complains that online class meetings are too often under-attended, assignments are unclear and some classes have not even taken place since he was last physically in school.
AMAC’s Weber says she wonders how many youngsters don’t even have the wherewithal to purchase computers and Internet access. She’s not alone. An article in USA Today put it this way: “teachers and advocates worry the crisis will worsen the education gap for low-income households, even as they take steps to try to accommodate students with paper packets or loans of electronic devices.”
The good news is that there are free and/or low cost sources for computers and Internet access needed by low-income students. “It may take some time and energy, but a good way to make some sense out of sheltering in place is to use your own computer to find those sources and pass them on to your local teaching community,” reports Weber.
For example, some states and municipalities have established programs that provide access and equipment for needy students. Meanwhile, according to Education Week, “the country’s teachers and principals have sprung into action, distributing Chromebooks to students and sending Wi-Fi enabled school buses into their communities, teaching on Instagram ‘Live’ and hosting virtual class discussions on Zoom—and calling students and parents on the telephone to make sure they’re OK.”
At the end of the day, however, Weber points out that the burden of schooling the nation’s children must be borne by parents and grandparents who need to fill in the gaps resulting from long-distance teaching. “We need to hone our abilities to help young students as best we can.”
She suggests that moms, dads and grandparents become “substitute teachers” and “teachers’ aides” to help their youngsters get through the new reality they face. “Guide and support them with the online lesson plans their schools are providing via the Internet. And, supplement their homework with home schooling assistance that is available online such as the Websites listed at Learning Liftoff, the site provides a list of such resources at https://www.learningliftoff.com/20-best-homeschooling-websites-and-learning-resources/.
In addition, the Department of Education offers an online Helping Your Child tutorial series that provides parents “with the tools and information necessary to help their children succeed in school and life.” This comprehensive series is available directly from the DOE at this Website: https://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/hyc.html.
The 2 million member Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC] [www.amac.us] is a vibrant, vital senior advocacy organization that takes its marching orders from its members. AMAC Action is a non-profit, non-partisan organization representing the membership in our nation’s capital and in local Congressional Districts throughout the country. And the AMAC Foundation (www.AmacFoundation.org) is the Association’s non-profit organization, dedicated to supporting and educating America’s Seniors. Together, we act and speak on the Association members’ behalf, protecting their interests and offering a practical insight on how to best solve the problems they face today. Live long and make a difference by joining us today at www.amac.us/join-amac.