COVID presents challenges, opportunity to re-imagine school

July 27, 2020

The loss of learning that has already occurred last spring and over the summer is yet to be determined, but is likely significant. The term "Covid Slide" has become a commonly used vernacular already. In addition, the other functions schools typically provide are taking a toll on kids that cannot be ignored. Schools provide social/emotional care, mental health services, nutrition, nursing and more on a daily basis. Reports of child abuse are commonly made by school officials, and those reports are down by more than 50% since schools were closed last spring.

Real world stories of neglect and trauma are being reported by local social service agencies like the Boys and Girls Club. There is the story of the boy who asked for an extra backpack to store his clothes because his family lost their apartment and is living in the car; the girl whose mom was arrested for stealing food for their family; the child who apologized for smelling bad since she hadn’t been able to bathe because of no water or electricity. And, the brother and sister begging to return to school because they are tired of being left at home alone, locked in a bedroom.

There is certainly an upside to reimagining school. Mastering the effectiveness of virtual learning and providing one-to-one technology for all students is such a positive step. Nutrition will be provided for our kids and plans are being made to provide mental health and nursing services virtually. Many other innovative ideas are in the works and good will come from it.

As a community we can rest assured that school leaders will continue to do all they can to serve kids. As a community we also need to do our part to help mitigate the spread by listening to public health experts, wearing masks and following all guidelines to stay healthy and protect our most vulnerable citizens. We also need to do all we can to support school leaders and assist in every way to help them get kids back in school as soon as possible.

Read Foundation President and CEO Mary Mélon's original Oklahoman editorial.