Learning Policy Institute Reports on California School Mitigating Strategies for Safe Return to School

Reopening Schools Safely in California: District Examples of Multilayered MitigationSince August, schools across California have reopened for in-person learning, undertaking the challenging but crucial work of ensuring student safety. The state has enacted several first-in-the-nation public health policies to support safe school reopening, such as a renewed mask mandate for schools and offering resources to support free, school-based testing and vaccine clinics. With these and other public health policies in place, California’s COVID-19 case rate has steadily declined since mid-August. As of September 20, 2021, the state had the lowest case rate in the nation.

Guide to Recovering Lost Instructional Time

The U.S. Department of Education has released a guide to intervention to to recover lost instructional time. The steps they identify:

  1. Reengaging students in their learning including by meeting the social, emotional, mental health,
    and academic needs of students and through such approaches as tutoring and creative staffing;
  2. Providing information and assistance to families as they support students, including through
    home visits and information sharing; and
  3. Using high-quality assessments to inform teaching and learning, including acceleration, and
    target resources and supports.

Click here to read the full PDF report.

In order to build trust with families to return to in-person learning, they suggest:

• Communicate frequently with families – in their home language – and work to build their
confidence that children will be safe in-person;
• Encourage and provide access to vaccinations for eligible students and staff;
• Implement COVID-19 testing in schools;
• Address ventilation needs where applicable;
• Implement universal indoor masking;
• Maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms to reduce
transmission risk. Because of the importance of in-person learning, schools should implement
physical distancing to the extent possible within their structures, but should not exclude
students from in-person learning to keep a minimum distance requirement. When it is not
possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully reopen while maintaining these distances, it is especially important to layer multiple other
prevention strategies, such as screening testing;
• Provide safe transportation;
• Provide affordable child care; and
• Ensure access to healthy meals and other basic needs

See also the U.S. Dept of Ed “Return to School Roadmap”

In the Fallout of the Pandemic, Community Schools Show a Way Forward for Education – from Learning Policy Institute

Click here for the full article

Excerpt of Article by Authors Jeannie OakesAnna MaierJulia Daniel

This post is part of LPI’s Learning in the Time of COVID-19 blog series, which explores evidence-based and equity-focused strategies and investments to address the current crisis and build long-term systems capacity.

School buildings are closed for nearly all of the country’s 50.8 million public school students, and those being hit the hardest are the nation’s most marginalized students—more than 52% in 2016–17. For these students, school closures can mean the loss not only of precious learning time but also of essential services such as meals and medical and mental health services that mitigate the stresses of poverty.

But there are schools that continue to support student learning and well-being—among them, community schools. The country’s community schools are designed to serve the whole child (addressing learning and well-being) and are based on the understanding that children are better positioned to learn when they are healthy, well fed, and safe. The United States has thousands of community schools serving millions of students already. Among these schools, 2,300 are part of the nonprofit network Communities in Schools. The nonprofit Coalition for Community Schools network supports some 5,000 community schools across the country.

Although there are other schools around the country that use some of the strategies of community schools and have also successfully responded to student and family needs, community schools are unique in that they have formalized and powered up these supports around four “pillars”—medical and mental services, extended learning time, family and community engagement, and collaborative leadership among staff. They hire dedicated staff such as community schools coordinators to organize services for students and families through partnerships with nonprofit and government organizations, including health clinics, food banks, tutoring, and after-school programs. As we begin to rebuild and rethink schooling, this is a highly effective, research-based approach that policymakers can look to.As we begin to rebuild and rethink schooling, [community schools are] a highly effective, research-based approach that policymakers can look to.

Because community schools prioritize relationships with family members—often offering social services and classes for parents and guardians—they were already deeply rooted in their students’ lives and had relationships and infrastructures in place when COVID-19 hit that enabled them to mobilize support services and connect with their students and families meaningfully and quickly. (continued)

Restarting and Reinventing School: Learning in the Time of COVID and Beyond – Report from the Learning Policy Institute – Linda Darling-Hammond et al

Click Here for the Full Report

Executive Summary of this 126 page PDF Report

Across the United States, state education agencies and school districts face daunting challenges and
difficult decisions for restarting schools as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. As state and district
leaders prepare for what schooling will look like in 2020 and beyond, there is an opportunity to
identify evidence-based policies and practices that will enable them to seize this moment to rethink
school in ways that can transform learning opportunities for students and teachers alike.
Our current system took shape almost exactly a century ago, when school designs and funding were
established to implement mass education on an assembly-line model organized to prepare students
for their “places in life”—judgments that were enacted within contexts of deep-seated racial, ethnic,
economic, and cultural prejudices. In a historical moment when we have more knowledge about
human development and learning, when society and the economy demand a more challenging set
of skills, and when—at least in our rhetoric—there is a greater social commitment to equitable
education, it is time to use the huge disruptions caused by this pandemic to reinvent our systems
of education. The question is: How we can harness these understandings as we necessarily redesign
school? How can we transform what has not been working for children and for our society into a
more equitable and empowering future?
This report provides an overarching framework that focuses on how policymakers as well as
educators can support equitable, effective teaching and learning regardless of the medium
through which that takes place. This framework provides research, state and local examples, and
policy recommendations in 10 key areas that speak both to transforming learning and to closing
opportunity and achievement gaps. It illustrates how policymakers and educators can:

  1. Close the digital divide
  2. Strengthen distance and blended learning
  3. Assess what students need
  4. Ensure supports for social and emotional learning
  5. Redesign schools for stronger relationships
  6. Emphasize authentic, culturally responsive learning
  7. Provide expanded learning time
  8. Establish community schools and wraparound supports
  9. Prepare educators for reinventing school
  10. Leverage more adequate and equitable school funding

    Each of these 10 policy priorities will help schools reinvent themselves around principles of equity,
    authentic learning, and stronger relationships, and they require shifts from policymakers and
    educators alike.

Parents and Teachers Want to See Big Changes Come Out of the Pandemic, Survey Says

Parents and Teachers Want to See Big Changes Come Out of the Pandemic, Survey Says

As many students return to in-person instruction after staying at home for much of the 2020-21 academic year, parents and teachers alike are hoping school itself will look different, with more opportunity for smaller classes and personalized attention for students.

What’s more, the majority of both parents and teachers are eager for kids to go back to in-person schooling full-time this fall, according to a survey released this week by a civil rights education and a learning nonprofit organization.

Both groups also understand it’s not going to be easy. Ninety percent of teachers and 61 percent of parents surveyed last month are expecting big challenges as children head back to in-person classrooms. Academic development was a top concern, with 73 percent of respondents listing it as number one in a survey conducted last month by Understood, a non-profit that works on behalf of children with learning and thinking differences, and UnidosUS, an organization that works on behalf of Latinos.

Click here for the full article…

Survey finds major–and potentially lasting–changes in K-12 schools’ curricular choices during the pandemic

/PRNewswire/ — An annual survey conducted by Bay View Analytics of K-12 teachers and administrators in the U.S. found that the sudden shift to remote…
— Read on