Planning for Re-Entry and Beyond
Over the past month, we’ve been deep in conversation with our partners, community organizations, families, and each other to assess our new reality and determine the ways in which we can do the most good. We’re writing today to share a brief update about what comes next as schools plan for the next school year.
The Re-entry and recovery PRocess
We share the thinking of our friends at Instruction Partners that the effects of the COVID-19 crisis will play out in four phases for schools: crisis, re-entry, recovery, and the new normal. Re-entry will be marked by the gradual reopening of schools, likely with new safety measures in place, once the demands on our public health infrastructure have leveled and risk is manageable. During recovery, which may not take place until the following academic year, schools will have fully resumed operations.
First, we believe our core programmatic tenets will be essential as school staff and students re-enter schools and our society recovers from the COVID-19 crisis. Programming that supports educators across entire school systems to develop equitable practices and improve students’ access to knowledge will be needed more than ever.
Second, we’ll also need to address new levels of trauma and unfinished learning while managing change with equity at the center. Despite these unknowns, we have no doubt that schools will still be the most powerful force for rebuilding economic stability and ensuring that every young person has an equal shot at opportunity.
The systemic failures that hindered students of color before the COVID-19 crisis will be exacerbated by greater threats to health, safety, and belonging. Communities of color are already experiencing disproportionate impacts as well as racism and xenophobia. Students are likely to re-enter with significant and variable unfinished learning that surpasses typical learning loss, as well as trauma, and educators will face complex and consequential decisions about prioritization while they attend to their own social emotional needs. To meet this challenge head on, we are providing virtual and hybrid professional learning and devoting our resources and research to the following three priorities.
- Accelerated Learning in Math and English Language Arts: Forecasts suggest students will experience learning loss of approximately 30% of prior year learning in reading and 50% in math. During crisis and re-entry, we will support system and school leaders to assess curriculum choices and learning priorities. Those assessments will guide plans to address unfinished teaching and learning with effective and equitable adjustments. Teachers will also need support to adjust learning plans for new content without limiting the opportunities they provide every student to build grade-level knowledge.
- Whole Children, Whole Educators: Students will re-enter the academic year with greater social and emotional needs resulting from quarantine and isolation. Social and emotional development have always been key to the core content areas, but there will be a greater need than ever for classrooms to be spaces of connection and belonging. Teachers will need support to meet increased student needs with research-based strategies, and teachers themselves will need spaces where they can heal.
- Equity at the Center: Though there is still limited research about the effectiveness of online learning in K-12 education, we do know that success rates for virtual learning have been lower for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students. Furthermore, some policymakers are now proposing policies that would have disproportionate negative effects for students of color. As schools think about recovery and re-entry, there’s an opportunity to adopt transformative policies and practices that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. We will provide virtual services that support school and district leaders to accelerate change management, draw from diverse leadership in schools, and advance difficult conversations about change and implications for school culture.
As this work takes shape, we’ll be sharing perspectives, tools, and lessons learned. We thank you for your leadership during this time that is challenging us all to show up for one another.
Be well, and stay safe.
Leading Educators will not provide site-based programming through at least October 31, 2020. We are working with partners to provide best-in-class virtual alternatives to ensure health, safety, and continued opportunity for students.