School attendance is the leading indicator of future student success, but how do we measure who attends during a global pandemic Fam? If learning at home wasn’t hard enough, families all over the country will most likely feel the burden of making sure their learner is signing in to google classroom and going to virtual lessons daily. No one wants to look like an ill equipped caregiver and the “you are doing your best” mantra will feel distasteful to read aloud.
To be honest, schools do not need to do attendance. This is a merky data point that quite frankly wastes a spreadsheet and tells us what we already know. We know that there is structural racism and inequity that crack between the already collapsing education system. We know that attendance data will report that children with access to technology, caregivers at home with secure employment, and ways to social distance easily will be more likely to “attend”. Families who continue to work, who are economically exploited, poor without technology, whose native language is not represented in school-wide communication, who are Black and Brown, and other folx on the margins will be less likely to attend on a consistent basis.
COVID-19 also reveals schools inability to cultivate relationships with families. If we had nurtured authentic partnerships before learning at home started, maybe families would be more inclined to ask for help or would want to answer the phone when we call. I know white supremacy culture does this to us. It constructs this concept that we can only do right by learners when we have the data to prove families need help. This construct distorts our ability to be anti-racist and anyone in the business of doing transformative work, but call roll calls are being performative.
Don’t be complicit in the system you fight against. Don’t fold into the district’s instructions. Don’t be afraid to agitate an already disrupted learning. Our families AND school staff deserve to have autonomy in how children learn. They are experts of their children so
Do continue on
Do mitigate unresolved harm from the school year with caregivers
Do create a wellness collective within your classroom to make sure basic needs are being met
Do body breaks and move with your students before learning
Do provide space for families to feel what they need to and ask for feedback about your instruction from learners
Do trust that the learning will happen without a building
Do make a bomb ass plan so when you get back, learners feel held and secure
Do honor your staff. They have families and worry and toilet paper runs for them are a thing too.
And lastly do be a human being that understands everyone is out here surviving. No one chose this. We are living in a health crisis that is literally killing folx and disproportionately killing Black people and other groups impacted by bias and racism. Stay safe and lets fucking survive this shit without a perfect attendance e-party please.
Amelia Allen Sherwood she/her