It has been almost a year for some that schools were locked down and virtual learning took the place of taking the bus or walking to the school where you sat at your desk with your schoolmates and your teacher(s) taught you about this and that.
Now, a great controversy exists about the reopening of those schools that most teachers, parents and students need desperately. Many opinions exist. The CDC has told us that it is safe to reopen. Governors have varying opinions. Many teachers are adamant about returning to the classroom, parents are distressed and the pupils haven't been polled en masse.
Having taught for many years in a variety of places and populations, I have pensively thought about this dilemma and have formed my own rationale based upon my experiences. The school bells must ring as soon as possible. Virtual learning has its place, but it cannot replace a child's (especially young children) experience in the classroom with his teachers and his peers. The role of the teacher is exceptionally important. He or she imparts information. Soon afterwards, the students ask questions, make comments and/or require the instructor to clear up any misunderstandings about what was said, and most importantly, listen to their classmates discuss what they have also heard.
Virtual learning cannot provide all of these experiences. The interaction in a classroom is vital and necessary because it teaches us to listen, to participate, and to make choices in later years. Even before the pandemic, children who were homeschooled, met with others for discussions. Even parents who are college graduates and beyond cannot duplicate the experiences that happen in a classroom.
This "lost" year must be addressed. Summer classes, with a short break, should be considered or we will fall behind and in some cases fail our children, especially those at risk. We cannot, as a country which values learning, fail to address this population and fall behind, abandoning our children's needs. The decisions we make now will come back to haunt us if we do not take action to remediate the time we have already lost. School bells must ring out as soon as possible. Parents and teachers should not be part of the problem. They should be part of the solution.