It is right that everyone — parents, teachers, students, the entire extended education family — would celebrate last week’s announced reopening of public schools for in-person learning this fall. More than almost any milepost on the pandemic road to recovery, this marks a return to normal routines, both at home and in the community.
However, crossing this threshold also means clearing a hurdle for students and especially for teachers: They must help the kids to close gaps that likely opened during a year of distance learning. That process will begin with summer school programs, but it surely won’t end there.
Layer on top of that the lingering concerns about COVID-19, and the pending appointment of a new superintendent, and it’s clear that the state Department of Education has a daunting task ahead.
But it makes sense to have online learning platforms kept at the ready for the near term. Long-term, distance learning continues to have value in making courses accessible to students in remote locations, and could supplement education resources statewide, said David Miyashiro, executive director of the nonprofit HawaiiKidsCAN.
Miyashiro has been watching preparations for summer and fall classes with some concern. The DOE is properly targeting its programs to students needing the most help, he said, but they may not be signing up for the free summer classes.