“I am a dad of two children in the Chicago Public Schools system.”

“I am presently at home to assist my family during the COVID-19 crisis. It’s been very challenging for the Molina family during this time with the loss of both of my in-laws and with the challenges that COVID-19 has placed on us in so, so many ways.”

“Both of my children are identified as diverse learners. They both have individual education plans for their respective schools.”

“They both have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and suffer from anxiety.”

“E-learning has not been beneficial to my children. In fact, I feel that they have taken steps backwards.”

“In January of 2020, we had separate meetings for each of our children which attend different schools.”

“We felt very confident that by the end of the 2021 school year, they would most likely exit from their programs because of their continued success.”

“My children had a deep love of school and a spark for learning.”

“Over a year has passed since we had those meetings, and I cannot say with any confidence that I feel my children are ready to exit their programs. Their level of anxiety has increased significantly. Their inattentiveness has increased significantly, and it is because of e-learning.”

“E-learning does not work for everybody, and one size does not fit all. My children are not doing well in school.”

“My wife and I have had several conversations [with their teachers] as to our frustrations and about getting them on task. It’s easy to say parents can make their children listen.”

“In reality, this is easier said than done, especially when I have two children which face many challenges.”

“My 5-year-old returned to school on the 11th of January, and he was happy. His spark for learning came back. After about two and a half weeks of school, on the 26th of January, we received a message saying that because of the potential strike that would take place, my son would not be able to receive in-person learning.”

“My 5-year-old son has said quite clearly to us he does not like school anymore. He does not want to return to e-learning. He is not happy with school in general. And the inconsistencies in his education as a 5-year-old are not his fault.”
“E-learning for my oldest son, it’s a struggle. He gets easily distracted, and while he may not be as vocal as my little one, he has often said that after lunch he doesn’t want to return to school. Or he doesn’t want to participate in e-learning for the day.

“As a former educator who spent over 20 years in the profession, that really breaks my heart. And while I am certainly advocating for the needs of my children, I’m extremely worried for the learning and achievement gaps that this situation is going to create for other learners as well.

“I’m very worried about students with special education needs, whether they be cognitive learning, physical or social-emotional. I’m very worried about low-income families. I’m very worried about the sub-groups that traditionally score lower than Caucasian students, or suburban students.”

“While some groups of children had achievement gaps prior to the pandemic, I have to believe that they have just increased.”

“And if we don’t return to in-person learning, it’s going to make our teachers’ jobs so much more difficult. Teachers already have tough jobs.”

“They are in a noble profession, perhaps the noblest of professions. They are the caregivers. They act as moms and dads to our children. They are there to help them with all aspects of school, to give them stability.”

“It is not uncommon for kids to feel sadness prior to spring break, winter break, or summer break because they want to stay in school with their teachers.”

“So, I’m really worried about how much time students have spent away from the stability of the school system: especially when the Catholic school, a few blocks away from my house, has been open since the fall.”

“Other Catholic schools have been open. Suburban schools have been open or recently opened.”

“Knowing that our children are missing out feels like another case of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots.’”

“If this was a universal policy across the state or the nation, where all kids were learning at home, I would take a very different viewpoint and different approach towards this issue.”

“But, to know that a school a few blocks away from my house has in-person learning and other neighboring districts that have in-person learning saddens me as to why my children cannot participate in in-person learning also.”

Al Molina
Parent, former educator
Chicago, Illinois