Governor Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman rightly closed all Arizona schools for the remainder of the 2019/2020 school year because of the Coronavirus.
A legitimate worry has surfaced with how students (especially English as a Second Language and Special Education Children) will make up for the lost learning time for the last quarter of the school year they have missed.
Going to digital instruction for the remainder of the school year has encountered hurdles because of inconsistent internet hotspots, especially in rural areas, and the need for 100,000 students to have access to a laptop to complete their schoolwork.
If summer school is not a viable option, one potential solution for local districts (the state does not set the school calendar for Arizona’s schools) to consider is to expand the 2020-21 school year or school day.
For example, instead of starting the school year in the first week in August and ending it the week before Memorial Day Weekend, local school districts convene a board meeting and adjust their new year calendar, maybe starting on July 21 and ending on June 11 if the health situation permits.
Another solution may be extending the school day by increasing class periods by ten minutes each for the 2020-21 school year.
Obviously, school stakeholders like administrators, teachers, and parents need to arrive at a consensus moving forward on an agreeable solution.
Teachers, Administrators, and staff would have to receive increased compensation for the increased time.
Extending the 2020-21 school year or prolonging the instructional day during that period are viable solutions that stakeholders should consider to help children catch up.
Most children, who are probably bored at staying home, and parents, who never appreciated the custodial aspects of education until now with the kids home all day, would probably welcome these ideas more readily than expected.
Hopefully, education leaders across the state will consider this solution.