A Croatian International Expert on Safely Reopening America’s Schools

Total Croatia News

July 12, 2020 – On Tuesday, July 7, the White House hosted a half-day Summit on Safely Reopening America’s Schools focusing on reopening America’s schools in safe ways that respect the holistic health and learning needs of America’s students. The Summit included state and local leaders, health professionals, teachers, administrators, parents, and higher education institution leaders from across the USA. The live broadcast of this event was attended by nearly 700 attendees. Among them was Srećko Mavrek, a Croatian educational expert based in New York, who has officially represented Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education at the UN Department of Global Communications. Communications since 2016.

Srecko Mavrek - UN.jpg

“In the weeks ahead, educators and government officials at the state and local level will have to make important decisions about when and how to safely reopen America’s schools. Therefore, it was very important to initiate the national dialogue about safe reopening. Everyone agrees that students should return to the classrooms as soon as possible, but there are also several main disagreements regarding the safety concerns, learning models and financial issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released detailed guidance to ensure school officials understand how to prepare for, prevent transmission of, and react quickly to coronavirus cases within an education system,” said Mavrek.

President Donald Trump and the federal government demand that schools must reopen, and they must be fully operational, i.e. five days of classes per week. He added that America’s Coronavirus mortality rate is down tenfold from the peak of the crisis.  Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the Administration expects children to be back in their learning environments this Fall and urged decision-makers to think practically about the consequences if children do not return to the classroom this year. She added that is best to leave to education and community leaders to determine how the schools will reopen.”

“Their opponents argue that premature full school reopening could lead to further spread of the coronavirus. They therefore support different models of blended learning, i.e. a few days at school plus a certain number of distance learning days. On Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza unveiled their “Blended Learning” plan for the city’s 1.1 million public school students. The mayor noted that most schools will not be able to have all students in school at the same time. Classrooms will be limited to about nine to 12 students. That’s instead of the average class size of 30 students. Chancellor Carranza said that the plan to bring students back into school buildings requires the use of PPE and social distancing. He added that parents can choose only distance learning and that later in the year they will be able to request a transition to combined teaching. Parents will have opportunities throughout the year to transition their child into one of the in-person models. If any family wants to switch from the “Blended Learning” to “All Remote Learning” they may do so at any time.That doesn’t necessarily mean that schools will reopen because Governor Andrew M. Cuomo also announced on Wednesday that New York State will decide during the first week of August whether schools will reopen in the Fall. “

 “Distance learning was introduced because of the extraordinary circumstances and it was a big shock for students, teachers and parents to adapt to such a sudden hard situation. I think that students with learning difficulties lose the most because many of them cannot cope with distance learning or stay behind because of various factors. On the other hand, distance learning can be beneficial for students who can learn at their own pace. Some of my college students did very well last semester. In addition, the question is how further social isolation and lack of social interaction will affect students’ mental and social health. The situation is uncertain for now, but it is quite certain that the federal states and some large school districts will independently decide on the safe reopening of schools and learning models. I think there will be a lot of complications with the organization of the blended schedule because there are many unresolved issues, e.g. how to learn and teach while wearing face masks, how to effectively plan scheduling for the Fall, how will school districts handle the question of student transportation, and if there will be enough teachers needed for reduced classes,” said Mavrek.

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