Questions and More Questions
The list of governors canceling in-school instruction due to COVID-19 for the remainder of this academic year continues to grow by the week. The result is that superintendents and their academic teams are left to figure out how they will be able to minimize and compensate for the significant learning losses that will impact millions of students in their charge.
The questions abound. Will there be summer school? If so, how could it be financed? Should the coming school year begin early? Will they be able to add school days to the ‘20-’21 School Year to compensate for the lost time?
If it turns out that summer school is the preferred option, and they can find the necessary funds, will there be sufficient staff to hire? And if there is adequate staff, will contracts need to be renegotiated to facilitate the hiring process? Are there bus drivers available to transport the students?
Overcoming the Coronavirus Slide
Maintaining the Learning
Before becoming carried away with what is to come, let’s appreciate what is already being done. As is well known, most schools have moved to online instruction. Online education has generally taken two forms. Some districts are providing comprehensive resources or directed curriculum, while others are providing interactive programs.
But most superintendents realize that even the best intentions and the best resources do not replace the time-honored interaction between teacher and student. These superintendents readily admit that attempting to duplicate the in-school experience with online learning is a hefty challenge.
They understand that their students will suffer learning losses, and are already preparing themselves to confront the new challenges that result from students being out of school. As one principal remarked, “Even though we are confident that our teachers are going to do everything they can, there will be gaps when kids come back. I think there is going to be the ‘coronavirus slide.’”
Learning problems become exacerbated by the difficult emotions that accompany all of this disruption. Keeping children engaged in remote learning for a prolonged period under such unusual circumstances is very challenging. Because of this, teachers recognize the need to focus on students’ social-emotional needs, as well as academics.
On top of that, students are being quarantined among other family members and, as such, are subject to the array of sometimes difficult emotions within their homes as well. Students need support to deal with that also. So, in the current pandemic, social-emotional learning can no longer be considered as an enhancement, but rather as a necessity.
Planning for Next Year
No experienced administrator entertains the thought that they are going to be able to catch up in one to two weeks. As one put it, “This is going to be a situation where you are going to have to apply extended school services over the entire school year next year. Many will need targeted support. We are going to have to look at personalizing this over the next year for all the different students that we have.”
So while administrators are busy doing whatever they can to salvage whatever they can from this school year, many are devoting significant time and energy to envisioning what the beginning of 2020-21 should be. Some are asking, “What should we do differently? What can we provide for kids during the summer as recommendations for families and children to rehearse and prepare for those school-type skills they will need in the fall?”
Others have suggested that, when school reopens, listening to student voices about their current experience will be especially vital and instructive. At least for now, it can’t just be a return to business as usual. The students’ experiences of COVID-19 will need to be integrated into the classroom experience to enhance their future success.
Don’t Ever Let a Crisis Go To Waste
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the world of education, like so many other areas of life. Institutions around the world are being compelled to urgently harness and maximize the vast array of technological tools to craft content for remote learning for students in every arena of education.
As a result, educators are discovering previously unimagined possibilities to share information and educate with more flexibility than they have ever known before.
For years now, schools have dreamed of some of these revolutionary innovations and novel ways to integrate cutting-edge technology into the classroom; for most teachers, these have remained nothing more than pipe dreams. Now, with schools being closed due to the coronavirus, everyone has migrated into new territory.
But the change doesn’t end with implementing the new technology. The role of the educator is undergoing a fundamental reevaluation. For years now, teachers and educators have been discussing how best to educate future generations. COVID-19 might be the disruption that will force us into the engineering needed to create that future.
Help Your Students Cope with the Crisis
The response to the COVID-19 Pandemic is unprecedented. Because of our unique role in children’s K-12 online therapy and education, we feel a responsibility to do what we can to assist schools, therapists and students with this transition to online learning and seclusion. To ensure that our students remain engaged and supported, our therapists are providing complimentary “Support Sessions” to the country’s youth. We are also assisting schools by training their therapists for remote therapy.