My kids’ school district has released its plans for fall. Or as I like to call it AUGUST. Swear to Christ, why schools start first Monday in August here is beyond me. And the COVID-19 school year plans are unfolding similarly to most school districts.
There’s a full-day, in-person option. This is a necessity, given many parents’ need for schools to be physically open so they can go to work. There’s a fully online version, which will be horrible, but hopefully not as awful a shit show as online “teaching” in the spring was. And there’s a hybrid option where kids go to school in person 5 days a week for “half days.” Dear reader, you should read half day as 3 hours. That’s SUPER helpful for nobody. You’re exposed 5 days a week, but also barely have enough time to grab a coffee and settle in before you have to come back.
For this post, though, let’s set aside that what schools have to do is literally unprecedented, and unfathomable, and the challenge truly insurmountable. Let’s talk about how this plan was shared.
In an email.
No town hall, no Q&A, no live discussion, no opportunity for parent comments and feedback.
Maybe they didn’t want to get yelled at by angry and frustrated parents. Maybe they didn’t feel like subjecting themselves to questions nobody knows the answers to. Maybe they didn’t want to be vented at. I get it. All of that sucks.
But other districts I watched over the summer unveil their plans in live town halls, taking Q&A, and much sooner so they could incorporate feedback into their plans and adjust, and families could have adequate time to plan for themselves!
Why did I have to call the district to find out that the hybrid option is only 3 hours a day but also all 5 mornings a week? Wouldn’t they just benefit from telling everyone that instead of answering calls one at a time? Wouldn’t all deserve to know that the online platform is a third-party purchased asynchronous platform that has no human teacher behind it? You’d think it would be more efficient to just host a town hall, and definitely fairer. Wouldn’t all of us benefit from hearing questions we didn’t think to ask? And why are we scrambling at the last minute?
Sending the plans out in an email sends a very hurtful message. It demonstrates that the district is committed only to pushing out their solution, and not giving any insights into how they arrived at that solution. It shows that they don’t think reopening schools is a two-way conversation. Not holding a town hall shows they don’t care to help us all build from the same exact pile of knowledge that will help empower parents to feel confident in navigating their options.
It is the job of leaders to share the district plan live, to hear feedback and take Q&As.
Not doing so sends the message of: we don’t care, we don’t want to hear, we already ‘know’ your needs and questions, since we presume to ‘know’ our community.