The case against reopening schools

Two-time alumna and fifth-grade teacher Rose Levine examines the case for —and against — reopening elementary schools this fall.

With a clear-sighted critique of remote teaching, Rose Levine, a fifth grade teacher and dual alumna of Mount Holyoke, eviscerated the idea that returning to physical classrooms amid the COVID-19 pandemic would benefit students. 

Levine graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 2006 with a bachelor of arts degree in biological illustration and a master’s of arts in teaching degree from the Professional and Graduate Education’s teaching program. Her opinion article was published in a Washington Post article titled “The case against reopening schools during the pandemic — by a fifth-grade teacher.” 

In the piece, Levine discussed the difficult challenges of remote teaching, including technological gaps and isolation. She argued that a rush to return to in-person teaching with safety protocols such as masks and physical distancing is a misguided attempt to recapture what has been lost in the move away from physical classrooms. 

“Sharing a classroom allows our elementary cohorts to become like family,” Levine wrote. “We play games, exchange smiles, sit in circles on the rug and tell stories. We taste each other’s food and whisper in each other’s ears. We have casual exchanges during downtimes at recess or transitions between subjects. We share supplies, collaborate and take turns, and in so doing we build a model of accountability to one another and our community.”

She also addressed the argument that at-risk children, those who live under threat of abuse, neglect or hunger, would be better served by a return to school.

“[C]ounterintuitive as it may seem, bringing children back into the building that has served as their refuge may actually serve to exacerbate and heighten their trauma,” she said. “Virtual school poses great risks for our most marginalized and vulnerable children. But returning to school under these conditions may hurt them even more.”

Read the article.

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