Jun 30 2020

Face the Unknowns of a New School Year with Planning and Prep

Despite limited resources that are likely to further shrink and many questions about what’s ahead, K–12 leaders can get ready for whatever comes next.

Late summer is usually an exciting time for K–12 schools.

It’s when the new school year is on the horizon, bringing with it the thrill of a fresh start and reconnection. There’s the anticipation of the first day of classes, when the buildings come alive with students and employees returning after months away.

It’s a bit of an understatement to say this year will be different. How different? School administrators have been contemplating that question as they regroup from implementing remote learning this past school year and plan out the safest, most efficient ways to continue operations.

Preparing for Back to School Amid Uncertainty

Recent research offers some insights into challenges that educators, students and parents faced with remote learning. Almost two-thirds of parents surveyed by Pew Research Center expressed concern about their children falling behind when schools closed. Thirty-one percent indicated that their children were getting little or no additional instruction or resources beyond what schools provided.

Recent data collected by the RAND Corporation’s American Educator Panels includes teachers’ indications of a need for greater student engagement and motivation during remote learning. Principals expressed plans to prioritize teacher training and support this fall.

Despite the surfeit of uncertainty, administrators can prepare for different reopening and funding scenarios to effectively adapt school environments to work in physical spaces or online.

Thoughtfully deployed technology can help personalize learning and maintain connections when gathering together in one classroom or school isn’t possible. The lessons learned will also help make the next round of remote learning go that much smoother. For more about how some districts have been able to dive into remote learning, read “E-Learning Struggles Prepare Districts for What's Next."

In the end, what was daunting is not impossible. That realization is a silver lining for Drew Lane, executive director of information and communication technologies at Shawnee Mission School District in Kansas.

“We can figure this out,” Lane says. “Don’t get me wrong — technology won’t solve all our problems. But I think we have a suitable alternative for now.”

I agree.

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