Learning Curve

Alexandria has announced that the city schools will be all-virtual when school begins next month. It was the last of the local school districts to make that announcement. So the school year, at least to start with, will take place online.

I have mixed feelings. Last spring was disastrous for my son trying to complete his senior year online. Technical issues, a lack of communication, laziness, confusion, and a severe case of senioritis made for a depressed teen and an unproductive final three months of school. I would hate to be facing that again — though, in all fairness, the school system has come up with a more structured program for online learning, now that teachers have had time to put something together, instead of having to improvise on the fly. I think it will work much better for most students than the virtual learning of last spring.

On the other hand, opening up the schools would be even more disastrous. I keep hearing from proponents of schools opening in person that students could learn while staying six feet apart from each other and their teachers. These people apparently have never been inside a modern American school. The rooms are too crowded to allow for distancing. Even using the larger spaces — cafeterias, gyms, and auditoriums — would not give nearly enough space for the kind of distancing that health experts say is necessary. The schools were already overcrowded and underfunded. And now we’re suddenly supposed to find the space, and enough teachers, to spread the kids out over a much wider area?

President Trump keeps saying that kids are “almost immune,” despite all evidence to the contrary. And he turns a blind eye to the danger to teachers and other school staff — not to mention the students’ families and communities.

All in all, I’m glad that area schools are remaining virtual for now, but I’m also glad that my son graduated.

My son’s alma mater T.C. Williams High School stands empty these days, or nearly so, and students will continue off-site until at least some time in November.

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