To the Editor:
The school year as we have known it for the past two centuries (nine months in, three months off for the summer) was based solely on an agrarian society, which we no longer are. That custom belonged to a period of time which no longer exists, and was devised solely so families could survive by relying on their children to help plant and harvest crops in the summer months. It is an anachronism that was important then, but is no longer useful now, and certainly not cost-effective when schools now sit empty for three months out of the year.
I know most people don’t want change, even when it’s in their best interests. We pay lip service to ideals, but we live by expediency. Yet we are now faced with a challenge that requires that we must change in order to educate our children while keeping them safe.
One of the ways in which this can be achieved is simply keeping schools open year-round, allowing children to attend the required 180 days, only on a rotation basis. And … if necessary the capacity could be doubled, by having split sessions if needed. Everyone would have holidays off at the same time.
We could also convert large areas, like gymnasiums, auditoriums, and even cafeterias into learning centers, where students sitting six feet apart can be taught by one teacher on a stage with a large screen and a microphone. Perhaps even movie theaters could be leased for the same purpose. Students would be assigned the same seats for many different subjects. The only person moving would be the teachers … not the students. And teachers could have students who want to become teachers as their assistants in a work program, giving them credit for hours spent.
These are just a few suggestions that might help ease the terrible burden of continuing to educate our children in a safe environment, while also giving parents working at home a much-needed break.