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Dr. Frank Roberson

Leaders across the education spectrum are smartly and strategically planning for the resumption of safe and effective educational programs for their respective students. Strategic-specific schooling relative to the COVID-19 Pandemic must be in place. It is very important to note that the traditional school calendar will more than likely take a necessary "backseat" to science-informed processes, deliveries and procedures that must first consider the safety and protection of students, staff and their family members. As such, parents must continue to monitor and guide their young person in the safe practice of regular methodical hand-washing and social distancing.

Parents and students should be expected to strictly observe the following practices:

1. Where feasible, school-health-related entrance stations: Nurse-managed or staff trained check-in station to check and record student, parent, staff and visitors' temperatures. Health department regulations and guidelines will be strictly observed.

1. The strict maintenance of social sistancing.

2. Listen to scientists.

3. Population-reduction scheduling of instructional classes (present classes in shifts to facilitate social distancing.

4. Collaborate with other educational leaders.

It appears at the present time that schooling will have to be safely and strategically re-presented around the pandemic, as a science-approved vaccine may not be widely available in the immediate future. These are uncharted conditions and leaders are tapping all of their personal and external intelligences to safely design an effective framework to continue the necessary process of educating the nation's schoolchildren. They, along with their essential collaborators, have the intellectual capacity to achieve this goal.

As such, educational leaders are contemplating (and have been since the COVID-19 outbreak) necessities and provisions that may include (but are not limited to) the following contingencies:

1. First and foremost, the provision of adequate multi-apportioned funding resources (or the equivalent thereof) from a combination of local, state and federal sources to ensure a safe and protected environment for students and staff. It is acknowledged that this pandemic has introduced an almost unmanageable expense on already-strapped local, state and federal coffers; however, sound fiscal decision must be executed with the educational preparation of the nation's future, its schoolchildren as a primary priority.

2. The provision of technology for students, regardless of their residential location. Students in rural America must not have their educational accessibility compromised because of internet limitations. School officials are to be commended for creating partnerships and implementing systems to accommodate students with limited to no technology. School busses loaded with technical equipment have been providing hotspots for internet connectivity.

3. Administration and staff training. Training may include the credentialing of teacher-support specialists. TSSs would provide instructional assistance to parents in the home. Home instruction would facilitate social distancing in the traditional classroom, making strategic spacing possible for in-class instruction. Students would be scheduled on a rotational basis for in-class instruction, limiting the number of students in school. (This approach may be referred to as stratified and abbreviated home schooling which would in effect expand the learning environment and facilitate social distancing. The home would become a physical extension of the school. This configuration of schooling would require the cooperation of the community –specifically business and industry, as working parents would have to participate in homeschooling. This approach would also involve the assignment of teaching-sssistants and child-homecare aides to rotate among the homes to assist with teacher-guided instruction and childcare needs. This approach is reminiscent of the 1940s when education officials would come in the home to solve truancy issues.

4. Online academies. A team of teachers would provide online instruction. Tele-education is a technology-based approach that would continue the delivery of instruction in the home. The students and the parents would need to be supplied the necessary devices (hand-held or lap-top) to engage in the learning opportunities.

5. Student training in personal contact avoidance.

6. The publication of strategic efforts in hygienic practices for students and staff.

The resumption of schooling may present a strategy-specific model that safely and effectively navigates around dangerous and vulnerable conditions associated with the pandemic. Educators have the collective knowledge to navigate safely around the pandemic.

Today's parents are resilient and perpetual. They have had to step up as their children's teachers during this pandemic-influenced recess from formal schooling and effectively team-up with their children's teachers to deliver the process of educating their children. Teachers are to be celebrated for the inordinate amount of hours teaming with their colleagues to design and disseminate lessons to their students, whom they so love and miss. Let it not be lost: In early America, the responsibility of educating children was that of the parents; but, today's international society requires a highly sophisticated form of educating children, so they are prepared to further advance this nation as a leader in a world-class community.

The way forward requires well-thought-out calculus from everyone engaged in process of preserving the U.S. through the intellectual and physiological development of the youth.

Dr. Frank G. Roberson is the former executive director of Horse Creek Academy Charter School.