“Home schooling won’t kill kids.. Covid-19 might”

“Parents and teachers struggle with how to reopen schools safely this fall…No one wants to go back to school more than I do. It is imperative that we have a real plan in place.” R. Harris and L Tarchak, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Illustration by Ori Toor


Excerpt:‘Home-Schooling Won’t Kill Us. Covid-19 Might.’ By Rachel L. Harris and Lisa Tarchak, The New York Times

“In the past few weeks we’ve heard from multiple contributors, columnists and the editorial board about whether or not schools should reopen for in-person classes this fall. And in the thousands of comments on these pieces, parents and teachers weighed the dangers and the repercussions of continued virtual learning.

Wherever they landed, many agreed that the coronavirus crisis has brought into acute focus how vital America’s schools and child care centers are to society and how crucial they are to helping our diminished economy recover. A selection of those comments follows…I love my job. It is my calling, my life’s work. I have done this for more than twenty years at the same urban public school. My students amuse me and amaze me on a daily basis. Yet the urgent desire of people who are not in education to get schools up and running, frankly, amazes me. Despite all my love for my students, I don’t really want to die for them or anyone else. Neither does my partner, who is living with cancer. It is imperative that we have a real plan in place if we have school.

‘Teachers and students and cafeteria workers and secretaries and custodians and librarians and bus drivers all deserve to be safe while at their jobs.’ Eva Lockhart

‘How many teachers receive combat pay while being forced into mortal heroics?’ James Siegle

‘If young kids are home, one parent has to quit their job. I’m a parent of a first grader and remote learning is a disaster. My kid only had one hour of remote learning a day. The one hour was far from smooth (interruptions, technology issues). I had to teach my child the rest of the day while trying to keep up with my job.” DK, New Jersey

‘There isn’t anyone involved in schools or children’s lives who doesn’t want to see children return to school safely. But we are not yet safe. Tell me how to get a 6-year-old to not sneeze on his friends let alone play and work from a distance’.Anna B, Westchester, N.Y.

‘I spent 12 or more hours a day teaching live lessons, providing written feedback on student work, making instructional videos, meeting remotely with students one on one… I say give remote learning another chance.’ Carolyn, Princeton, N.J.

‘It’s fairly obvious to most people that you cannot open schools in high-rate Covid areas like South Florida. The kids will be fine, it’s the adults that need to get their act together.’ Mike L, South Carolina


‘This Is About Justice’: Biden Ties Economic Revival to Racial Equity

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. released the fourth piece of his ‘Build Back Better’ proposal in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday.Credit- M. Agins-NYT

In the last of four proposals laying out his vision for economic recovery, Joseph R. Biden Jr. pledged to lift up minority-owned businesses and to award them more federal contracts”. – By T. Kaplan and K. Glueck , The NYT

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine any  photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann


II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. The repercussions of virtual learning continued to be a source of debate.
  2. Parents and teachers weighed the dangers of virtual learning.
  3. Wherever they landed a crisis  followed.
  4. American Schools  are crucial in helping diminished economy.
  5. ‘It is imperative that we have a real plan in place.
  6. In some instances remote learning is a disaster.
  7. In other circumstances remote learning was adequate at best.
  8. The politicians have been talking about the virus and kids as carriers.
  9. The government has never granted parents the right to child care.
  10. Our district is constantly piling on more administrative requirements.


 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.


  1. In the past few weeks we’ve heard from multiple contributors.
  2. I love me job. It is my calling.
  3. I have taught for more than twenty years.



  1. Returning to normal requires controlling the virus.
  2. Of course we need to reopen schools.
  3. My kid only have  one hour of remote learning.


  1. I worry about many student who have unstable homes.
  2. We are going to be facing some long-term damage.
  3. In the eyes of the state, school and child care are different.


Reading Comprehension: Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from speakers in the article.  Then identify the speakers.

  1. “I’m the parent of a 12-year-old. Her experience with remote learning was adequate at best.”
  2. “Teachers should take the proper precautions (masks and sanitizer) and come to school to teach.”
  3. “Tell me how each child is going to have her own supplies for the day as shared supplies are no longer an option. No more Legos, no more books.”
  4. “Give remote learning another chance.
  5. You can’t expect students to learn if they aren’t even required to show up.”
  6. “Parents need to step up and step in to educate their kids.”
  7. “It’s fairly obvious to most people that you cannot open schools in high-rate Covid areas like South Florida. The kids will be fine, it’s the adults that need to get their act together.” —
  8. “The risk to the health of the children appears to be minimal; severe illness is very rare. In balancing that risk against the real risks of abuse, isolation and neglect, I strongly believe it is better for us to return to school.”


III. Post Reading Activities

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, they may share their thoughts. To reinforce the ideas, students can also  write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Why do you think the schools are receiving the most pressure to reopen or not?
  2. Who were the people chosen to answer this important question?
  3. Whether they agreed with each other or not one thing these people had in common was the fact that the coronavirus  crisis has brought into acute focus how vital America’s schools and child care centers are to society. Why is this important?
  4. Are you a parent, student teacher or  health worker?  Do you think the schools should be opened  now? Explain why or why not.
  5. Eve Lockhart is amazed by which group of people who want to reopen the schools at any  cost?
  6. Which group of people have the urgent desire to reopen the schools at any cost?
  7. What new information have you learned from this article?



Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas  you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things  that  you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention.

Main Idea / Debate

Directions: Divide students into two teams for this debate. Both teams can use information from the article and sources from the Web  to support their arguments.

Team A will list five reasons that support arguments for reopening schools.

Team B will list  five reasons that support arguments against reopening schools.

Each team will have time to state their points of view,  and the teacher decides which team made their points.  

For organization, have students use this great Pros and Cons Scale organizer  from Freeology