As the working parent of a kindergarten student in Frederick County, I'm disappointed by the Board of Education's decision to reject a hybrid learning model for the county's youngest students. I believe our kindergarten students need to have some in-person instruction instead of the fully virtual model we are currently following.
The hybrid education model proposed and rejected by the school board was an appropriate instruction model for our child that balanced safety concerns with development concerns for our children. It is unhealthy for our youngest students to be in a fully virtual environment with no chance to properly develop the social skills that are so critical when you are young. We now have 5-year-olds in the county who are spending 20 or more hours a week looking at laptops.
I believe that the risk is appropriately low to allow a limited number of our children back to school with appropriate safety precautions like mandatory mask usage and increased sanitation, and that not sending our youngest students back for limited in-person instruction is harmful to these students. I want to be clear that I am not advocating for a full return to school or a hybrid model for all grade levels, but I do wish to see a hybrid model for our youngest learners.
As the spouse of a partner who works in senior living, I am aware of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and urge my fellow residents to wear a mask and act responsibly. But acting responsibly should include a pathway that allows our 5- and 6-year-olds to at least have two days per week to develop socially with each other in a learning environment that is not on a laptop.
Because of their votes against this hybrid learning model for our youngest students, I will not be voting for Ms. Jarman and Ms. Gallagher in the November election.