What children need now and when schools reopen

Public schools are playing a vital role in helping families through the current crisis and in the recovery period to come. The pandemic and school closures have made it clearer than ever that public schools are the center of our communities and our children’s education.

Our state government must ensure that all our public schools have adequate funds to fulfill their essential role in the physical, social and mental health of our children and our communities in these difficult times. But the economic impact of the pandemic on our state's finances will be grim.

Public schools provide far more than just academic instruction for children. Even during closures, many are providing daily meals to children and even adults in our communities.

Although technology cannot replace a physical school, during closures, access to devices and internet are a necessity for connecting children and families to schools for academics and other services like counseling and speech therapy. Too many families are still lacking access weeks into the current closure.

Moreover, when our children can finally return to their public schools safely, they'll need:

  • small classes for both health and academic reasons;
  • facilities and schedules that accommodate health essentials like frequent hand-washing and outdoor play;
  • opportunities for the social and physical experiences they are missing out on during closures;
  • wraparound services needed to ameliorate the trauma of living through an unprecedented health and economic crisis;
  • drastically reduced time spent on standardized tests and elimination of high-stakes attached to test scores; and
  • compensatory services for students with disabilities who have missed out on required services during closures.

Take Action

Here's two simple actions you can take now:

  1. Send your state representative and state senator a note to remind them of the importance of in-person schooling and what our children will need when they can finally return to their buildings safely: from small class sizes to support for not just the academic content but the social-emotional and physical experiences they forgo during closures. You’ll find a sample letter and more background reading here.
  2. Sign up for Yes for the Fair Tax campaign emails to get action alerts this summer and fall. A graduated income tax is crucial to Illinois’ ability recover from the pandemic and the unfolding economic crisis.

Background reading

Washington Post: A proposal for what post-coronavirus schools should do (instead of what they used to do) from education researchers and play advocates, Pasi Sahlberg and William Doyle

Sun-Times: A Chicago principal asks: ‘What is school without a school?’

NPR: 9 Ways Schools Will Look Different When (And If) They Reopen

NYC Public School Parents blog: After the Pandemic: Our Children Deserve an Education Revolution by school superintendent and play advocate Michael Hynes

NPR Illinois: Illinois Prepares To Enter COVID-19 Induced Financial Storm

Bloomberg: Don't Forsake Poor Schoolchildren, Even in a Pandemic"

Washington Post "Why kids shouldn’t be forced to sit at desks all day when schools reopen"




[Graphic used via Creative Commons]