Urge Secondary Schools (7th-12th grade) nationwide to replace one day per week of in-person instruction with remote learning to combat climate change and promote remote work skill development.
You know about Meatless Monday and Taco Tuesday. Let's start #WWWednesdays. One day in the middle of the week when 7th-12th grade students stay home and learn remotely.
We call on school leaders at the national, state and district levels to advocate for the replacement of one day of in-person instruction with one day of remote learning per week at the 7th-12th grade level. If adopted by a majority of schools nationwide, this would result in a significant reduction in carbon emissions, AND would help students develop the skills to work remotely in the new greener economy of the future.
Public education is essentially an investment in the future. It is incumbent upon all of us to invest in a greener future and fight against climate change. The Biden Administration has made it clear that combating climate change is a priority within every area of policy from transportation, to foreign policy, to economics. We must meet the challenge of combating climate change in the field of education as well.
The COVID19 pandemic forced almost every school to rely on some level of remote instruction. This experience has demonstrated that a fully remote model is not ideal for most students' learning, but has also demonstrated that schools can successfully take advantage of the tools of technology to deliver effective remote instruction. What we have been forced to learn to slow the spread of COVID 19 can be used to slow climate change!
Equity considerations are crucial in making decisions about implementing #WWWednesdays fairly and effectively.
We implore Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona to use his position to encourage, and department policies to incentivise the adoption of one day per week of remote learning in secondary schools across the country. We call on State Superintendents to champion the cause of combating climate change by establishing weekly remote learning. We encourage Superintendents of local school districts to explore how they might be able to adopt #WWWednesdays in their secondary schools.
Established by Eric Norland and Critical Precipice Endeavors, the idea of this petition is to challenge leaders to consider this idea, and to innovate solutions to overcome obstacles to implementation. Our intention is not to have developed solutions to every potential obstacle at this time. However, in recognition that obstacles and limitations clearly exist, please read on...
Increased remote learning is NOT for everyone. Continuing with the traditional model of exclusively in-person instruction may still be the best option for many schools and students including:
Early Childhood Education
Kindergarten through 6th grade students
Students with Special Needs
Students living in communities with inadequate internet service
Communities with high levels of poverty
Neighborhood schools where a majority of students walk or take public transit
Preliminary studies suggest that the changes in human activities due to the COVID Pandemic has decreased global carbon emissions by about 8%.
If all secondary schools in the country adopted #WWWednesdays, they could cut their emissions from running buses by as much as 10%.
In most secondary schools, #WWWednesdays could be implemented with no further investment in training and technology. They have already done it!
For workers, the COVID pandemic has illustrated the advantages of having the skills and flexibility to work remotely. Students who experience weekly remote learning from 7th through 12th grade will have experienced the equivalent of a full school year of practical experience functioning in a remote environment.
Schools and teachers can take advantage of remote learning opportunities to intentionally help students build the skills to focus, explore, communicate, and collaborate in the virtual environment.
Research shows that adolescents can benefit from later school starting times. #WWWednesday would allow students to sleep 30-60 minutes later one day per week.
#WWWednesdays may result in cost savings in transportation that could be redirected toward technology and training, or other priority areas within schools.
Equity in Implementation
Students who benefit from free or reduced meals at school may be negatively impacted by remote learning. This challenges us to find alternative and potentially better ways to provide nutritional resources and support for families that need it. Continuing approaches used during the pandemic may be one approach.
The digital divide exacerbates inequitable learning opportunities. Wide adoption of #WWWednesdays could increase pressure to close the digital divide. School communities significantly disadvantaged by inadequate internet services may not choose to adopt #WWWednesdays at this time.
The income of bus drivers and other hourly school employees could be negatively impacted. Increasing the hourly pay of these workers by 20% to offset the reduction in hours may be not only justified, but long overdue.
Responses to Other Potential Drawbacks
While it is clear that everyday remote learning is not ideal for most students, positive results with hybrid learning models suggest that some combination of in-person and remote learning may be ideal. Starting with 1 day per week of remote learning is a sound and cautious approach.
Students, families and educators may be sick and tired of remote learning, and desperate to get back to "normal." There has also been broad recognition that there were many problems with our pre-pandemic normal. Climate change is too important to allow ourselves to be dissuaded from bold changes in our desire to be comforted by the familiar.
Placing the remote learning day mid-week discourages families from treating it as an optional day of learning, or from treating it as an extended weekend.
While remote learning can increase child care burdens for families, most students in 7th-12th grades are able to be home alone for one day per week.
Extra-curricular activities could be impacted. Providing transportation to the sub-group of students involved in activities on remote learning days may be warranted. Other activities could take place in a remote, virtual environment one day per week.
Some schools may instead choose to reduce their school week to 4 days by lengthening the instructional day.
Every school, PK-12 could reduce their carbon footprint and increase employee morale by committing to making half of their professional development and teacher inservice days remote, work-from-home days.
Larger districts could potentially implement remote learning on different days of the week for different schools in order to avoid buses sitting idle, and may actually be able to reduce their bus fleet.