(THE FEDERALIST) – In most public school districts, it remains uncertain if schools will reopen completely, or at all in coming weeks. In cities like San Francisco and New York City, parents have been told that students will have the option to attend school in person, only to later find out schools will stay closed. Instead of fully reopening, many districts have opted for a staggered approach that prolongs the threat of COVID-19 indefinitely.
Even in districts that have allowed in-person learning — what used to be known simply as "school" — campuses are required to follow onerous restrictions to minimize contact: masks at all times; desks kept at least six feet apart and disinfected after each period; prohibitions on paper materials and books; one-way hallways, and bathrooms monitored to ensure only one student enters at a time.
While it's debatable whether these restrictions do much to stop the spread (outbreaks still happen), they do remove many of the benefits of physically attending school. This leaves the other option for students: virtual learning.
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Unfortunately, virtual learning still presents significant challenges for students, parents, and educators. Numerous issues remain involving inadequate infrastructure, troubles logging-in, and the challenge facing teachers still hoping to take proper attendance or maintain genuine accountability and oversight. With motivated students, the virtual learning experience is awkward and incomplete. With unmotivated students, it's nearly impossible.