EL ECONOMISTA – Seven months have passed since that distant March, when the coronavirus, the pandemic and the quarantine began to be part of our daily language. Seven months without face-to-face classes, with the immense cost that this will have to generate for thousands of children and young people. A cost whose magnitude will only be perceived in the years to come, and of which notion is lost compared to the daily statistics of infections and deaths.
Today, in the face of the reopening of schools, a new division is brewing in our society if we do not ask parents of families if they want their children to return to the classroom or to continue their virtual education.
This division is not a peculiarity of our country. A poll conducted by Gallup in the US during the second half of July reported exactly that result. It asked parents of children under 12 years of age for their preferences for the education of their children. 36% of parents responded that they prefer their children to receive face-to-face education, 28% online education and the remaining 36% a hybrid between both forms of learning. A clear division into thirds.
Without a doubt, the fear of contagion is a relevant factor in the opinions of parents. A similar poll conducted by Gallup between late May and early June, when the number of infected was much lower, reported that 56% of parents preferred face-to-face education and only 8% preferred online education.
Faced with the coronavirus, each family is different. In this regard, a few days ago Betsy DeVos, US Secretary of Education, published an open letter addressed to parents in which she states: “We believe that families need more options than ever to find what is most appropriate for their sons. If you want or need to send your child to school, we support you. We will provide emergency funding for schools to reopen safely and offer in-person instruction. If e-learning is the best for your family, we support you. We have set aside significant funds for distance education improvements. If you want your children to attend a school other than the public school that has been assigned to them by their place of residence, we support them. Therefore, we support the proposed law that would provide scholarships to families to choose the best educational environment for their children. At the end of the day, we want all parents to be able to make the best decision for their children. Each of you needs to be able to choose what is best for your own families, because you know your children and their circumstances better than anyone.
Let’s go back to our reality. If, in the face of the reopening of schools, the Government takes this into account and makes it easier for each family to decide what is best for their children, regardless of their economic possibilities, we will avoid creating a new, absurd and unnecessary division in our society.