In an ordinary year, we’d be rushing around getting ready to send the kids back to school. Remember ordinary years?
2020 is already going down in history as the Year That Would Not End. Because of the pandemic, we’re stuck at home, desperate to find ways to keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe. When we venture out, we arm ourselves with hand sanitizer, masks, bleach wipes, and gloves. We venture out into a world that looks like a dystopian caricature of a world we used to know. Shops and restaurants are closed, or plastered with warning signs at the entrance. Deliverymen with face shields hurry by with their parcels of groceries and supplies. Essential businesses space us apart, slather every surface with disinfectant, and surround cashiers with plexiglass.
But kids won’t stop growing and learning, even in a pandemic. They won’t stop needing teachers and mentors. Maybe there’s no going to school in the usual sense, but they do need to be schooled.
What does that look like in your community? Zoom meetings with their teacher? Lessons at the kitchen table?
At our house, we’re enriching our granddaughter’s stay-at-home schooling at every opportunity. Clara sits by me as we write our books together. She explores the beach and forest and Sound with us. She builds things with Granddude and cooks with Glamma. Meanwhile, her hard-working mom juggles a busy career. It’s both a profound joy and an undeniable challenge.
Please note that 15 to 16 million K-12 public school students in the US lack an internet connection, or they lack the devices they need for distance learning, according to this study. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/about-us/news/press-releases/k-12-student-digital-divide-much-larger-than-previously-estimated-and
The issue was brought into sharp focus by this photo of two little girls using the free wifi in Taco Bell’s parking lot: https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/31/us/taco-bell-california-students-wifi-trnd/index.html
They also need books. Ever since I was a little girl, books have been my teachers and mentors. One of the most beloved characters in The Lost and Found Bookshop [link] is Dorothy, the spritely kid whose appetite for books has endeared her to readers. Some of her favorite books can be found in this reading group guide: [link]. Fiction aside, it’s a fact that helping kids learn is up to all of us.
It’s a call to get involved in back-to-school in any way possible. Students need wifi, but they also need books. You can help by donating to legitimate charities like https://www.booktrust.org/, which has a 5-star rating from Charity Navigator.
Whatever back-to-school means in your community, please stay safe, be generous with your time and spirit, wear your mask, wash your hands, and don’t touch your face.
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