An "emotional and mental health emergency" has prompted Richmond, Va., Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras to give staff and students two additional days off to create two full weeks for winter break. Other districts also are switching their winter break schedules for similar reasons, and some are offering more mental health resources.
New legislation allowing qualified people who lack a bachelor's degree to serve as substitute teachers in Ohio is helping some school districts bolster their substitute pools through the end of the year. School leaders also have been using other temporary solutions to address an ongoing substitute shortage, such as having administrative staffers and other teachers fill in, combining classes and study halls, and adding more study halls.
The return to school buildings has stressed Metro Nashville Public Schools' technology infrastructure, causing internet failures, problems accessing educational platforms, a lack of assistive tools for students with special needs and even supply chain delays for new equipment. The school district is using federal E-rate funding to update wireless access points and hopes to use coronavirus relief funding to fill vacant IT positions.
Chicago Public Schools will begin offering unvaccinated students who are quarantined because of coronavirus exposure the option to take regular COVID-19 tests instead of staying home, CEO Pedro Martinez announced this week. This test-to-stay pilot will begin at an elementary school and then expand throughout the school district.
The end of Alabama State Board of Education's intervention in Montgomery Public Schools operations began this week. During the state's nearly five years of control, three state superintendents helped the district fill leadership roles, address misappropriation of funds, shore up finances, close some schools and improve student achievement.
School psychologists in Idaho still must have a master's degree after the State Board of Education voted not to lower the hiring standard to a bachelor's degree. The board also voted to expand the availability of college entrance exams to seniors as well as juniors to better align with a proposed rule to no longer require the exams for graduation.
Tennessee is planning a $200 million, three-year initiative aimed at improving proficiency among students through frequent, small-group and in-person tutoring. The Tennessee Accelerating Literacy and Learning Corps supports English-language arts and math instruction.
Students at two Catholic schools in New York state recently studied saints and created presentations about a saint of choice. The project culminated with students preparing a one-page, first-person narrative and sharing visual presentations to teach younger students about the researched saints, including a video made by eighth-graders about Blessed Carlo Acutis, a teen who died in 2006 and was beatified last year.
Steering clear of assigning "the worst intentions" to people and avoiding sound bites and rushed social media posts can allow for more productive debates in education, say Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and Pedro Noguera, dean of the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. Hess and Noguera, authors of a book on the subject, discuss the need for modeling civil debate and the importance of listening to others' perspectives and asking questions before pushing back.
Just as teachers carefully consider the ways in which they want students to use their time in the classroom, leaders must regularly reflect on the ways in which teachers are using their time during the day. Being thoughtful about providing time for teachers to reflect, connect with colleagues, and celebrate growth can go a long way to improve teacher morale. Read more.
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