Jeanette Deutermann is the parent on Long Island in New York who launched “Long Island Opt Out.” It is now part of NYSAPE, New York State Parents and Educators, which has led the successful opt out movement. She read some angry posts on Facebook, with blame as the common factor. And she wrote this plea on her Facebook page, which has been widely shared:

All of our Facebook feeds are filled with posts of parents furious with teachers giving too much work, too little work, teachers furious about kids not logging on, kids sleeping in, and kids not completing the work. I want to implore everyone to keep one word in the front of their brains right now: EMPATHY. We all like to think we have empathy for others, but now is the time to prove it.

For parents: if you think a teacher is assigning too much work, just realize – some teachers are untenured with chairpeople scrutinizing each and every assignment. Some are getting nasty emails from parents demanding more work. Some just are unaware of how long it is taking students to complete their work. Communicate with them. Most teachers will respond “no problem! Just do what you can!”.
If you think a teacher isn’t assigning enough work, just realize- maybe the teacher is sick themselves. Maybe they are trying to lighten the load for the student. Maybe they have three kids of their own that they are dealing with. Maybe they are dealing with the loss of someone they love. Just today I heard of a teacher who lost both parents to the virus but has continued to work putting out assignments. Assume everyone is doing the best they can. Communicate.

Teachers: if you think a student is being lazy or not taking responsibility for not completing work, just realize – maybe the student has to help taking care of siblings. Maybe the student is sick themselves. Maybe the student is struggling with mental health issues that are now exacerbated by this issue. Maybe they are dealing with the loss of a loved one. Maybe it’s something as simple as sharing computers and devices with family members. Or maybe it’s more complicated. Are some just refusing to do work? Maybe, but most likely there is something else going on. Students that were in therapy before this started now have to have phone therapy or none at all. For some, being in school WAS their safe space. Kids that were active and on sports now have no access even to most fields to run around or exercise. For many, their home is a stressful environment. That is only going to increase tenfold now. Sleep issues are escalating for both kids and parents, so waking up early isn’t possible, reasonable, or healthy for many.

My advice to everyone: HAVE EMPATHY. No one truly knows what is happening in each other’s lives. WE’RE ALL DOING THE BEST WE CAN. Stop tearing each other down and lower your expectations. For some their best will be a full day of homeschooling, board games and a home cooked meal. For others it will be surviving the day. Both are normal, both are acceptable. Breathe, take care of each other, and realize that these are the little things. Let’s come out of this proud of how we treated each other. #crisisschooling