The Atlantic Daily: Kids Are In For Another Messy School Year

Posted by on September 7, 2021 7:30 pm
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Tonette McQueen helps Zion Graham, 8, with a summer school assignment at Hunter Elementary in Greensboro, North Carolina., July 19, 2021.
Cornell Watson / The New York Times / Redux

Another strange school year begins. Then: One of the buzziest book releases of the year is here.

Like a toddler to a set of blocks, the Delta coronavirus variant toppled vaccinated Americans’ sense of safety around this virus with little remorse. For parents, that meant watching in fear as pediatric hospitalizations rose to their most dire pandemic levels in the final weeks of August, and not knowing which choices to make to keep their own family safe.

Now, amid all this uncertainty, America’s children have returned to school for the fall. (That is, if they can: Districts are already reporting hundreds or even thousands of kids sent home to quarantine.)

As with all things in this pandemic, one’s experience may depend on their region. Children who attend schools that are in highly vaccinated communities and have implemented mitigation strategies are likely to have a smoother semester, my colleague Sarah Zhang reported last month.

“Those without are heading into another very rocky school year,” she wrote.

  • Teachers are throwing out their lesson plans. “This moment calls for a sort of radical flexibility in reevaluating what needs to be taught and how best to teach it,” the teaching experts Abby Freireich and Brian Platzer note.

  • Students are bringing their trauma to school. “By centering the conversation about COVID-19 and schools on how alarming learning loss is, we’re failing to address the exceptional circumstances that we expect students to learn in,” Kelsey Ko, who teaches high-school English in Baltimore, writes.

  • Parents and grandparents are uncertain of what to do. “It’s so hard to know the right way to handle our current situation,” the writer and grandmother Robin Marantz Henig explains.

  • Delta could disrupt school even further. “The risk the coronavirus poses to an individual child is still very low,” Sarah Zhang warned last month. “But Delta will make for a bumpy school year even without very sick kids.”

The news in three sentences:

(1) The Taliban named a conservative new government in Afghanistan amid protests. (2) Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of decriminalizing abortion. (3) Television fans continue to mourn the unforgettable Michael K. Williams, who was found dead yesterday in his Brooklyn penthouse.

Tonight’s Atlantic-approved activity:

Happy Sally Rooney release day. Read our review of the best-selling author’s third novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You.

A break from the news:

“Why are the politics of sex still so messy, fraught, and contested?


Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.

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