November 2, 2021 was Election Day in New York City. Schools were closed, as many of them were being used as polling places. (However, many a parent did wonder why they weren’t allowed into their child’s school building due to Covid restrictions – but unvaccinated strangers were.)
However, instead of the traditional day off, students were required to sign in for remote, asynchronous learning. In addition, families were advised that, moving forward, snow days would be conducted in identical fashion.
How do parents feel about this latest development? Here is what you told us:
CW: I do not like the asynchronous learning bit. I think that the kids need a break when not in school.
YS: I was very upset about the asynchronous day. I wish it had just been a day off. It was a FULL day of school for the fourth grader, and the kindergartener had an assignment outside – which sounds cute, and I think I would have thought it was cute if I didn’t have to do it while also caring for my other child. I felt like there was an assumption that there is one adult per child, just to oversee learning. This was not the case here, nor in many other households, I imagine. It was a difficult day, complete with missing work and hard to reach teachers, that was reminiscent of early Covid remote learning days. After the DOE has waxed on and on about equity, how can they keep hoisting this upon us? Did they learn nothing from the Covid year? Parents do not want to be teachers (unless they want to be, ie: homeschooling). Remote learning is not equivalent to going to school.
PK: This will work for children that have parents that have the means to care about education or for children that have self discipline. For all the others it is a detriment. My children did their Google classroom assignments but had no online remote sessions. Something is better than nothing.
JL: I think my son’s school is actually really thoughtful about things like this, but I think they are boxed in by city-wide decisions. Last year when we were hybrid and when things were really fluid between in person and remote, I maybe could see the value of using days like Election Day as a remote day. But this year, my son had done everything in person up to yesterday. He had no “muscle memory” for remote, and the pivot to remote didn’t make sense. I imagine it was the same for teachers. Plus, the support system for kids is totally different from last year. This year, he is in an after school program that offers child care for days like Election Day that have no school. But they are not equipped to help kids with remote work, so he didn’t do anything there. That left us parents kind of scrambling to fill in the day’s asynchronous work after he came home and we got home from work, so it was like a night of mega homework. How is that helping him to learn? Just give him a day off. I don’t think asynchronous learning benefited him at all. I imagine the same will be true of snow days — the teachers will scramble to come up with some content, the kids will scramble to do it, and no real learning will be accomplished, but a lot of stress will be layered on top of the stress parents might already feel from having to accommodate a snow day. It’s totally inequitable — parents who can afford to take a day off work or have one stay at home parent will be able to do what the teachers ask. Kids with two working parents or a single working parent will fall behind or be stigmatized.
SK: (Our school) had no zoom at all, (claimed there was teacher training), gave a bunch of assignments on Google classroom. One being a book about elections, which kids did not go over in class. Kid had no idea what any of the vocabulary meant so had to explain to him all about elections. Good thing I’m wfh and had the opportunity to do so… how are first graders supposed to understand what a ballot/politician and other terminology is? This should have been reviewed in class before. Either do a zoom session or let kids have a day off!
LR: I have three children in public school in pre-k, 1st and 2nd grades. Having asynchronous learning yesterday was completely ridiculous. The kids should have just had the day off— as they DEFINITELY should on snow days. Even though the teachers prepared them for the day, there is no point in setting up families for asynchronous learning. It is so disruptive for parents who work, and for little kids like mine, the work becomes a to do list rather than meaningful work. It’s just a completely ridiculous and inane policy and I hope the new mayor changes this. I can’t tell you how stressful the day was. The kids are MUCH better served going outside, enjoying the snow on a snow day, and having the space to be kids. To sit in front of a computer and do work just for work’s sake, is a result of a policy made by people completely out of touch with the true needs of kids and their families. I sincerely hope this changes in the future.
JZ: Wanted to send you what I wrote to my son’s Kindergarten teacher when he asked about the asynchronous work due from yesterday: “You can mark him absent for yesterday. While we may have him do the work at a later time (since we do care about his learning), we do not agree with the new DOE policy to make Election Day and Snow Days asynchronous learning days. Since the DOE only seems to care about getting funding for students’ attendance, this seems like a good way to protest this policy. Please feel free to share with the school administration as well. I do want to stress that we in no way hold this against the teachers or school administration – we know you are just doing your jobs. I work for the federal government, so I completely understand how frustrating such bureaucracy can be. Helping young children with asynchronous learning was a huge hardship on working parents. While it was necessary last school year during the height of the pandemic, it is now being used for the convenience of the DOE and we do not support this.”
AL: Not happy about yesterday’s asynchronous learning. The children should have just had the day off. It was so stressful for the parents, because as usual communication was not smooth, lots of technical issues and nobody really knew what the expectations were.
JJ: I think asynchronous learning on a scheduled day off isn’t necessary. A month before, I had scheduled a bunch of doctor’s appointments for my kids on Election Day because I knew it was a day off from school and that they wouldn’t have to miss school to go to appointments. So I had to juggle doctor’s appointments and school which I was not expecting. I think asynchronous learning for snow days is okay but they’re not looking at the fact that many people lose power or Internet during snow storms. How does it work if you can’t log in? I think it would make more sense for students to have a hardcopy packet of work that they can do in case of school closure rather than rely on the internet.
And this, naturally, brings us to an issue that the Department of Education scrambled mightily to cover up last year, and claims is completely nonexistent this year: Some students still don’t have devices for remote learning.
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