Some people are saying they should remain closed through the end of the school year. EdWeek invited readers—and its staffers—to summarize this frightening, depressing, infuriating year in only six words. REVILLE: We’ve certainly had school closures in particular jurisdictions after a natural disaster, like in New Orleans after the hurricane. Despite the incredible challenges of offering medical education during this time, the pandemic has led to many positive and potentially long-lasting innovations. Now, however, we’re not only going to have to construct a backup to get through this crisis, but we’re going to have to develop new, permanent systems, redesigned to meet the needs which have been so glaringly exposed in this crisis. REVILLE: The best that can come of this is a new paradigm shift in terms of the way in which we look at education, because children’s well-being and success depend on more than just schooling. Here’s a sampling of the topics most frequently mentioned as especially important for PD this year: Feel like a long list? In other cases, there is virtually nothing going on at the school level, and everything falls to the parents. Some families have parents home all day, while other parents have to go to work. The coronavirus has already restructured one big pillar of the assessment world: It obliterated federally mandated statewide testing last spring. Do This InsteadDownloadable Guide: Assessing Students This Fall: Focus on the Classroom. 'Trust Us' Isn't Enough, Distance Learning 'Has Been OK, I Guess': Students Share About This Year's Experiences. Germany's quick response to the pandemic in the spring allowed it to get some children back in schools after just a few weeks. REVILLE: School districts can be helpful by giving parents guidance about how to constructively use this time. The default in our education system is now homeschooling. All of that has created a new set of staffing and professional development challenges for school and district leaders. That’s a daunting combination, but it’s what the pandemic has delivered. Deep Dive: What Should We Teach? They’ve issued a stack of papers and guidance documents suggesting that these topics are important and urgent, but it’s a daunting list to conquer. Some school systems are doing online classes all day long, and the students are fully engaged and have lots of homework, and the parents don’t need to do much. A more deliberate approach this fall could mean a better experience for students; the lack of one could turn equity gaps into chasms. “In an environment like this, where there is so much going on at the same time, it’s true, there is an awful lot to cover.”. As former secretary of education for Massachusetts, Paul Reville is keenly aware of the financial and resource disparities between districts, schools, and individual students. GAZETTE: What has been the biggest surprise for you thus far? If we’re not careful, we risk overloading families. What can school systems do to address that gap? Now more than ever, schools need to give all students access to grade-level work, experts say. According to the Education Week survey, it’s lower-income families who are more likely to be choosing homeschooling during the pandemic. Boston, for example, has bought 20,000 Chromebooks and is creating hotspots around the city where children and families can go to get internet access. "We need to look holistically, at the entirety of children’s lives.". We should be asking why the adults always control the learning. And again, we have widely variable capacity in our families and school systems. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate. If there’s evidence to suggest that students and teachers can safely return to school, then I’d say by all means. The pandemic has forced so many changes that experts are saying teachers and other school staff members need training on a wide range of things. We have to reconceptualize the whole job of child development and education, and construct systems that meet children where they are and give them what they need, both inside and outside of school, in order for all of them to have a genuine opportunity to be successful. And we decided to dramatically boost the involvement of the federal government in schooling and to increase and improve our scientific curriculum. In order to learn, children need equal access to health care, food, clean water, stable housing, and out-of-school enrichment opportunities, to name just a few preconditions. What to expect for education funding during the 2021 session: The Legislature passed an overhaul of the school finance system in 2019. Suddenly we see front-page coverage about food deficits, inadequate access to health and mental health, problems with housing stability, and access to educational technology and internet. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many students are attending school online and from home. It’s particularly important this year, experts say, to use each kind of assessment for the right purposes, and to avoid overidentifying struggling students, English-learners, or students with special needs for remediation. At the same time, many communities still need help just to do what Boston has done for its students. “School leaders can’t be swallowed up in figuring out where the hand sanitizing stations are going to go,” said Justin Reich, the director of the MIT Teaching Systems Lab. The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a severe impact on higher education as universities closed their premises and countries shut their borders in response to lockdown … All of our children should have the technology they need to learn outside of school. For example, we have always had large gaps in students’ learning opportunities after school, weekends, and in the summer. Teaching Physical Education is hard enough as it is, but it’s become much more challenging in recent months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some communities can take it for granted that their children will have such tools. Now is the moment for educators to focus inward and repair classroom inequities, writes the CEO of Baltimore's public schools. You’re not alone. Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. GAZETTE: What lessons did school districts around the country learn from school closures in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and other similar school closings? I hope we don’t fail to take advantage of it in a misguided rush to restore the status quo. (Previous installments in our “How We Go Back to School” series have focused on staffing changes needed for health and safety.). "The best that can come of this is a new paradigm shift in terms of the way in which we look at education, because children’s well-being and success depend on more than just schooling," Paul Reville said of the current situation. Political analysts say they will be hampered by tight legislative majorities, Bacow, Harvard faculty, students call for affirmation of American principles, Large-scale study finds gut microbes associated with lower risks for diabetes, heart disease, obesity, Experts say it raises need to speed vaccinations, lifts herd immunity threshold, © 2021 The President and Fellows of Harvard College. With many students on hybrid schedules that plan for some in-person and some remote learning, one “class” of students likely won’t be the coherent unit that it was in past years. One way to know what has been lost is through testing, but is it, Thu., January 21, 2021, 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity. Do these massive school closures have any precedent in the history of the United States? Again, in 1983, the report “Nation at Risk” warned of a similar risk: Our education system wasn’t up to the demands of a high-skills/high-knowledge economy. Digital classrooms Educational technology is coming of age during the pandemic. That’s where a rethought approach to assessment can play a role. This is part of our Coronavirus Update series in which Harvard specialists in epidemiology, infectious disease, economics, politics, and other disciplines offer insights into what the latest developments in the COVID-19 outbreak may bring. And whether teachers will feel adequately prepared and supported to meet the coming year’s challenges remains an open question. Deep Dive: How Schools Can Redeploy Teachers in Creative Ways During COVID-19Downloadable Guide: New Roles for Educators, Contributors:Reporters: Catherine Gewertz, Sarah SchwartzDesigners/Visual artists: Laura Baker, Emma Patti Harris, Francis Sheehan, Vanessa Solis, Gina TomkoIllustrator: Stephanie Shafer for Education WeekPhoto editor: Jaclyn BorowskiWeb producers: Mike Bock, Stacey Decker, Hyon-Young KimVisual project editor: Emma Patti HarrisProject editor: Liana LoewusCoverage of whole-child approaches to learning is supported in part by a grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, at www.chanzuckerberg.com. Finally, we must recognize the equity issues in the forced overreliance on homeschooling so that we avoid further disadvantaging the already disadvantaged. Online, they will have to develop relationships and classroom routines with students they may have never met in person. In the meantime, lots of organizations are springing up, offering different kinds of resources such as handbooks and curriculum outlines, while many school systems are coming up with guidance documents to help parents create a positive learning environment in their homes by engaging children in challenging activities so they keep learning. The top priority in a pandemic is ensuring that the learning environment for students is physically safe. In yet another example of this, a recent study has found that a significant proportion of children with disabilities were excluded from education during the pandemic … We need to correct for these inequities in order for education to realize its ambitious goals. Deep Dive: What Should We Teach? We have to be aware that families are facing myriad challenges right now. Teachers can then remediate those gaps “just in time,” instead of trying to cover every standard or skill that might have been missed last spring. Doing so can widen equity gaps. Despite some challenges, high schoolers say … GAZETTE: Schools in Massachusetts are closed until May 4. How should international education work during a pandemic that largely prevents travel? But should we be thinking broadly about education in some new way? Disadvantaged students suffer the consequences of those gaps more than affluent children, who typically have lots of opportunities to fill in those gaps. Instead, they’re urging schools to focus deeply on instructional techniques and informal tests in the classroom. “It’s aspirational,” said Dan Domenech, the executive director of AASA, the School Superintendents Association. Here’s What Teaching Looks Like Under COVID-19, Deep Dive: Taking Care of Teachers: Round-the-Clock Communication Is Exhausting, Deep Dive: How Schools Can Redeploy Teachers in Creative Ways During COVID-19, Downloadable Guide: New Roles for Educators, Shielding Students From the Economic Storm, Bridging Distance for Learners With Special Needs, Do Parents Trust Schools? But districts can’t expect teachers to be available 24/7—setting boundaries is essential for creating a sustainable work environment and protecting teacher mental health. The only precedent in our field was when the Sputnik went up in 1957, and suddenly, Americans became very worried that their educational system wasn’t competitive with that of the Soviet Union. Educators teach science, and this is a moment … In a year when so many children have unfinished learning, leading experts are advising educators to resist a “test and remediate” mentality, which risks trapping children in a scrambling-to-catch-up place. Reassuring students and parents is a vital element of institutional response. Among them, a new course for medical students focused on telehealth. DigitalVision Vectors/Getty and Laura Baker/Education Week. GAZETTE: Is that one of the silver linings of this public health crisis? Professional development will carry an outsized burden this fall, too, as school staff members require training to serve not only as instructors, but as social-emotional supports for students. Four high school students write about their distance learning experiences this year, sharing mixed feelings, including liking not having to wake up early but also suffering from eye strain. In some ways, the question was a welcome one, SIT president Sophie Howlett said, 'because we're not … How does a principal or superintendent manage busy schedules to get some Back! Many districts plan to offer hybrid schedules Back to School” series have focused on telehealth education during pandemic challenges. 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