“I’m not sure we are going to be doing school in the same way going forward.”
New hotspots around the nation are starting to emerge as the coronavirus continues its spread in each state. As states prepare for the worst, schools across the nation have either announced extended school closures or distance learning for the remainder of the year.
Maryland has seen an uptick in coronavirus cases in the past 48 hours and follows the trend of major cities becoming the new hotspot. As of Monday, April 13, the coronavirus cases in Maryland stand at 8,936 total confirmed cases with 262 deaths. There have been only 603 cases of confirmed recoveries.
Maryland Schools Impacted by the Coronavirus
As social distancing efforts are implemented to slow the spread, the Department of Education is thinking ahead and making preparations for the next school year. Currently, Maryland State Superintendent Karen Salmon has extended school closures across the state to last through April 24, while neighboring state Virginia issued an order from Governor Ralph Northam to close school for the remainder of the school year with education transitioning into a distant learning platform. Virginia’s announcement was made in late March, right after the two-week temporary school closure.
For students, teachers, and parents everywhere, this sudden shift has led to quick adaptations in order to finish out the school year.
Maryland Looks Ahead
As Maryland’s government continues to take the necessary precautions to slow the spread of the virus, the state is taking a closer look at what the future of education in Maryland looks like. In fact, Salmon has made public comments to that effect:
“I’m not sure we are going to be doing school in the same way going forward,” Salmon expressed to lawmakers, regarding the state’s preparation and investment in distance learning platforms and resources. “We’re not sure that it’s not something that we’re going to revisit in the fall or the winter. I’m really focusing much of our resources on the expansion and accountability wrapped around online learning and distance learning.”
A Second Wave of Coronavirus
There is much speculation about what the virus will do in the near future—and if, when, and how a second spread will impact the daily lives of workers, students, and everyone in between. Some reports show the potential of a second wave of the coronavirus spreading throughout parts of Asia. And without a vaccine, it is unclear what a second outbreak would mean for the United States economy and education system. Doctors and economists remain uncertain as they continue to track the virus.
Schools Prepare for Distance Learning
As of now, Maryland has made it clear that it will continue to prep for distance learning into the fall and possibly even the winter of the next school year. When asked about the potential of school closing for the rest of the academic calendar year, Salmon responded by saying that the outbreak in Maryland is being assessed on a week-by-week basis with new information constantly changing the course of action.
The Maryland State Education Association President, Cheryl Bost, has weighed in on the situation and added that if distance learning does continue, there are a number of changes that need to take place. Bost addresses the fact that not all students or staff members have access to a laptop. Additionally, teacher training for digital learning must take place in some capacity as not all teachers are equipped with the knowledge base of taking their teaching online.
The state of Maryland has also emphasized that while Salmon continues to plan for the impact of coronavirus on schools, her preparation is just that. It should not be taken as a prediction of what is yet to come.
If there is anything anyone can be sure about when it comes to the coronavirus, it is that changes are happening on a daily basis as the virus continues to spread throughout the country.
Let us know what your thoughts are on whether or not distance learning should continue into the next academic school year.