School districts and administrators face a tough challenge in determining what the return to school will look like for students and teachers in the fall. According to a report by Washington D.C. think-tank New America, we should not expect a return to normal this fall.
What Will a Return to the Classroom Look Like?
Plans for the fall should include a few different scenarios that depend on both your state’s response to the COVID-19 virus and the possibility of a second surge in positive cases. Planning for these scenarios allows school districts to meet the challenge head on and achieve the best possible educational outcomes for their students.
Back to the Classroom
School districts that plan a return to the classroom in the fall will have to contend with strict hygiene practices, social distancing, and masks – not to mention plans for dealing with a sick student or staff member. Administrators must also have a backup plan in place in case there is a spike in positive COVID-19 cases in their state and must revert back to online-only learning.
Some school districts may consider a blended schedule – meaning some students are in the classroom and some are learning online on an alternating schedule – to keep in-classroom attendance down around 50%. The risk of spreading the disease will be lowered while students still receive some level of classroom learning.
Online-only learning may be the only option for some students when they return in the fall. The silver lining here is that teachers will have many more opportunities for training before they return to the classroom, instead of only a few days like they were given when the pandemic started in March.
Regardless of the state of the pandemic locally, all schools will have to address one glaring issue: the COVID slide.
Combatting COVID Summer Slide
Teachers have constantly fought a battle against the summer slide, which is the tendency for students to lose some of the knowledge they gained during the school year over their summer vacation. In fact, several weeks at the beginning of each school year are devoted to re-teaching lessons from the previous year to get students ready for what comes next.
This year, however, school districts will also have to consider the fact that many students faced difficulties learning during the school year, as the setup for virtual learning was rushed and many students did not have access to technology that allowed them to participate in online classrooms.
The 2020-21 school year should start with a digital adaptive learning assessment, similar to what is used in many test prep programs, to find out where students fall on the COVID slide spectrum. Students can then go to an online learning platform such as Canvas for courses that can help them get back on track. These courses can be taken either live or at on-demand and feature English and Math questions that are aligned to Common Core and State standards.
Helping students recover from both the summer slide and the COVID slide is key before moving to the next challenge: returning to a classroom setting.
The next two months will be challenging for school districts as they determine the best way to proceed. If you’d like more information on how to create the best learning environment possible for students when they come back for the 2020-21 school year, contact us.