Editorial: ‘Distance’ is necessary now in our schools, not forever

Posted 4/2/20

By all accounts, from the superintendent on down, East Providence’s initial application of the distance learning methods for school students necessitated by the COVID-19 crisis has gone …

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Editorial: ‘Distance’ is necessary now in our schools, not forever

Posted

By all accounts, from the superintendent on down, East Providence’s initial application of the distance learning methods for school students necessitated by the COVID-19 crisis has gone relatively smoothly, the second week, obviously, better than the first and, hopefully, the ensuing month of April a means of attempting to implement the core principles of the program and foster the best possible learning environment for everyone involved.

However, and in extreme cases like this there are always a “however,” concerns remain about the long-term viability of the process and even in the short term, for many pupils, distance learning likely will create some difficulties.

Communication with instructors for those students who need that little extra bit of assistance in one of the possible negatives. Another is access to the internet for some medium and low-income families. Without it, there really is no way of enjoining the program.

The most pressing problem with distance learning is for students teetering on the edge of failure in the usual classroom setting, and most especially for students with mental disabilities. Their families and their instructors are keenly aware of the limitations of the method. It’s imperative for administrators at each level of the educational system to understand the latter and provide all means of aid viable under these challenging circumstances.

As with any dilemma of this scale, there will be people who attempt to take advantage of the situation to further their own beliefs. While it’s likely academia won’t fall prey to “grifters” who seek to line their pockets in this moment of emergency, there still will be those who might take this opportunity to try to alter in a meaningful way how we educate the young.

For some, almost certainly the few, distance learning principles might be a means to a better end. For the many, though, little if anything can replace the lessons gained from being in a classroom with instructors and peers.

School buildings are truly where we are introduced to a sense of self, of others, of community. No internet connection or computer screen could ever truly replace that experience, even for a brief period of time.

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.