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As reported by the Boston Globe, Massachusetts school officials have reported dozens of families to state social workers for possible neglect charges because of issues related to their children’s participation in remote learning classes during the pandemic shutdown in the spring, according to interviews with parents, advocates, and reviews of documents.
In Massachusetts, the trend was most common in high-poverty, predominantly Black and Latino school districts. A mother who struggled to work her full-time job and monitor her sons schooling, eventually got a call from the state’s Department of Children and Families. The school had accused her of neglect because her 7-year-old missed class and homework assignments.
Here in Texas, the TEA reported that truancy laws will apply to students who fail to attend school, but remote attendance satisfies attendance requirements. But the pandemic has raised questions for parents with children who are learning at home in this upcoming semester. How will parents have to monitor their children in online classes? What if parents don’t have the time to assist with their children’s schoolwork and it goes undone?
HISD told Chron that students who are engaged in daily learning will be considered “present” and will not be marked absent. But truancy laws will be in effect for virtual classes as well.
The HISD Press Office told Chron, “the TEA has stated that truancy laws will be in effect during the 2020–2021 school year for students receiving remote instruction due to COVID-19 related closures or health concerns.”
There will be extended measures to ensure student success in remote learning.
“Teachers and campus staff will monitor student engagement and academic progress daily base on three different criteria: student participation in daily live instruction, time and activities completed in the learning management system (HUB) and submission of daily assignments,” the spokesperson said.
As the days swiftly pass during the pandemic, students can become less and less engaged in their school work. The fatigue of working on a computer screen with limited interaction is enough to make students check out of their schoolwork– I remember, because in March in the final semester of my masters degree, I struggled with remote learning.
Even some Twitter users have shown how distance learning isn’t effective for their kids.
The pandemic is revealing so much about education, and there are larger disparities at hand. Some students may have limited access to WiFi, may not have adequate help for homework, or may have other responsibilities that take them away from their learning.
Forcing children to sit at a computer screen all day almost seems unfair, and to label them truant because of it only makes the reality of online learning worse than what it is.
For many pupils the ongoing pandemic is something they’ve never experienced– though they’re young, they are also learning to navigate through this national crisis everyday. Among everything families are enduring through this pandemic, counting their absences to label them truant is cruel.