By Don Krim
Anxiety and excitement, apprehension and hope, uncertainty and bafflement haunt the prospect of a return to in-person schooling: for some students now with very short notice, and of course for many more perhaps in August’s upcoming semester. Here is what we know: the Instituto Sanmiguelense and the Universidad de León have had their pilot reentry programs approved by the Secretary of Education of Guanajuato. To do so they had to submit a plan, have teachers on board, and have enough signatures from students and parents to merit the pilot. This plan is to include details of hygiene and health measures, mask policy, social distancing, hours, class sizes, air circulation, and so forth. With many students in attendance at both schools Jóvenes Adelante will be monitoring the situation. There are so many questions for a student to consider. Will the classes all be in person, or a hybrid? What if I do not feel safe to attend in-person classes? How are the protocols implemented in practice? What are provisions for violations? What permissions do I need to miss school and return if I am concerned I may have been exposed? How do I trust and verify the protocols my school is implementing? How do I express concerns to the school administrators?
For our students who live and go to school locally there are extra-school environmental issues. How does my behavior need to change on public transportation? How will I manage my safety with friends? How often do I need to replace my mask, and with which kind? How do I protect my family now?
For those who attend schools outside of San Miguel de Allende, there is another set of concerns to address. How do I handle or negotiate the situation with roommates? What if my roommates don’t return to school? What if a roommate gets sick or tests positive? Is my building a safe environment?
At Jóvenes Adelante we are investigating, disseminating information, asking students about their plans and experience, and using our educational contacts to do whatever is needed to best prepare our students and their families–physically, emotionally, and financially for that reentry. Our staff, board, mentors, tutors, and psychology team are standing by to absorb, share, and adjust as information changes: student by student, class by class, school by school, state by state. Our comprehensive model puts us in a unique position to do what we do best: guide and support our students on all levels, help them process conflicting information, soundboard concerns, make the most informed-decisions they can in an uncertain environment, and provide direct assistance when merited and feasible.
A new class of 33–35 students is also about to undergo reentry as new JA scholars. For information on donating, mentoring, or tutoring English, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org