During the Pandemic: WHAT WILL THE NEW WPS NORMAL BE? Call it: The “Now Normal”!
By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee
As schools across our state and nation continue to plan for the fall, many wonder just what will take place. What is the new normal??? But as Juliette Kayyem, a CNN national Homeland Security, said: “I call it the Now Normal because I think every day is going to be different.”
The new normal of the present is anything but normal. Much of the nation is looking at online learning as a means to deliver instruction to students who are at home. Thus, the new normal at the present time will be online learning.
As a school committee member, I worry about another wave of infection as more of society opens up. I see digital technology continuing to play a major role in education, as well as other aspects of our society. Zoom is now a household name with so many meetings and educational learning taking place.
For the time being the new normal will be about on-line learning, and the schools will have to have the necessary tools for our educators to support learning. Another new normal, I hope, will be more interaction between teachers and parents. Many parents will need training on how to assist their child at home via digital learning. So schools will need to set up workshops for our parents.
Collaboration and partners are essential in sustaining learning instruction -especially during this crisis. Teachers are our experts on instruction and will need to do all that they can see that our students are making progress.
I do have a deep concern for those parents living in poverty and the many barriers that make it difficult to support their children in the educational process. Parents are the child’s first and most influential teachers, and educators need to reach out and include them in the learning process. Educators must reach out to these parents and encourage them to continue to support their child with praise and love. In addition, we need to make sure that these families have Internet access, for the Worcester Public Schools will equip every student with a Chromebook this fall.
Another vulnerable group will be our SPED students and our ELL students, for they will need additional support from our school district. The new normal will be for the schools to interact with social agencies and inner-faith groups to work with them in the delivery of service to the children. Perhaps these organizations can also run after-school programs to assist children in need of services.
The bottom line is that teachers, parents and community leaders will have to work together to tackle the countless issues of learning during this global health crisis.
Most importantly, as Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Maureen Binienda said, “The new normal and the old normal share a most important belief: Quality learning needs to be the focus of the work .”
The New Normal will continue to be social distancing, refraining from hugging and shaking hands. Again, this is most difficult when working with younger children. Let’s look at other ways of showing affection, perhaps by placing one hand on our heart and saying something comforting.
The new normal will continue to have all students and teachers wear facial masks to school.
In addition, more hand-washing will take place, as well as deep-cleaning/sanitizing the school building.
According the American Academy of Pediatrics the following guidelines were issued regarding the opening of schools…Schools should:
Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces
Have students wash their hands often
Desks should be 3 to 6 feet apart
Teachers move from one classroom to another, not the students
Lunches eaten at their desks
Use outdoor spaces when possible
Facial masks for all adults and students
Flexibility to go virtual, if the virus surges
So, will the WPSchools open with the new normal?
I hope we don’t open in-person until we see a two-week downward trend in the virus. When our public schools do open, our schools will need to assist families by doing the following:
📚Over-communicate what they can expect before they return …
📗… have a period early in the school year where students can talk about their emotions and feelings …
📘… be consistent with instruction …
🖊Establish a strong relationship with the students and families … and reach out as often as you can to assure parents that their child is alright
😊… give parents ideas that they can do in assisting their child at home
😊… for those parents who have remote learning, check again to be sure that the teacher is constantly in touch, and find ways to assist those children who are having difficulty with their studies.
It may be the new normal for our schools, but let’s hope we can get back to a normal school day sooner rather than later!
EVERY WPS STUDENT SHOULD BE GIVEN A FREE WRTA BUS PASS FOR THE SCHOOL YEAR DURING THE PANDEMIC. THIS MAY MAKE TRANSPORTING STUDENTS TO AND FROM OUR SCHOOLS AT DIFFERENT TIMES SAFER, AS SCHOOL BUSES CAN TRANSPORT NO MORE THAN 20 STUDENTS AT A TIME.
FROM CHEF JOEY …
SWEET POTATO STICKS!
text+pics by Chef Joey
Side dishes are an important part of any meal or gathering, and with covid-sized upgrades, it is more important than ever to watch what we eat and how we prepare it.
A bag of sweet potato or even regular potatoes is inexpensive and can yield quite a large amount of side dishes. One of my summer favorites is sweet potato sticks – not fries, as they are baked!
Cut the potatoes into strips, toss in sunflower oil, and season with salt and pepper. Better yet, experiment with Montreal seasonings:
Bake 375 F for 30 minutes, until cooked. You have a light healthy side! Enjoy!
I saw Dave Brubeck and his players about 10 years ago at Mechanics Hall with the “Old Beau,” who had had a long day running his carpentry/contracting biz before the concert that evening (a week night). I turn to him to say something – he is fast asleep, head back, mouth open, snoring softly.💓 – Rose T.