As a lesson on using technology for activism, middle-school teacher Jose Gonzalez asked his students to create either a game or app that addresses the coronavirus pandemic. Apps created by the Compton, Calif., students include one that offers a test on symptoms for COVID-19 and one that provides resources about staying healthy during the crisis.
Middle-school co-teachers Sarah Kesty and Joshua Dye are working together to connect with their students, many of whom have special needs, and they offer four strategies they've developed during the school closures that they hope will continue when schools reopen. The strategies involve reading access, writing techniques, accommodations and workload management, and they note an increase in students' self-awareness and self-advocating during distance learning.
School technology budgeting presents new complications as leaders prepare for three possible fall scenarios: in-person schooling as usual, virtual classrooms or a combination. Erica Hartman, director of technology integration for the Morris School District in New Jersey, explains how lessons learned during lockdowns will help.
Some teachers who are older or who have underlying health conditions may not be comfortable returning to schools in the fall, the leader of a Dallas teacher's union says. A district task force is expected to release a reopening plan next month, and Rena Honea, president of Alliance-American Federation of Teacher said the district is currently hiring.
Some students are thriving with remote learning, including some who are distracted or struggle in a traditional classroom environment or who prefer to learn at their own pace. These turnarounds have also manifested among some teachers, who are blossoming with less social interaction.
The CDC has released detailed reopening guidelines for schools, mass transit systems, restaurants and other businesses, outlining a three-phase strategy for reducing social distancing and the use of six benchmarks to move through the phases, such as declines in new COVID-19 cases and emergency visits and more testing. According to the 60-page document, schools should remain closed; restaurants should limit operations to curbside takeout, delivery and drive-thru; and mass transit should limit ridership to essential employees in the initial phase.
Teachers in a North Carolina district are putting together virtual field trips to engage students in learning while schools are closed and travel is limited because of the pandemic. Eighth-grade teacher Andy Dunkerton said he was disappointed that students will miss a trip to Washington, D.C., but he found online tours of monuments and museums that have been so popular that "trips" are being taken every Friday.
With the current school year wrapping up, education leaders are looking ahead to fall, but approaches to reopening schools vary, and many changes will be necessary to ensure the safety of students and staff. Robert Hull, president and CEO of the National Association of State Boards of Education, recommends that leaders work with parents and the community to address concerns and identify solutions.
The coronavirus pandemic makes it clear that more need to be done to close the "parenting gap" that is experienced by students from low-income families, says former teacher Alejandro Gac-Artigas, founder and CEO of Springboard Collaborative, a literacy nonprofit. In this interview, Gac-Artigas says school districts have "underutilized" the single greatest natural resource in education -- love that parents have for their children.
Creating a phased plan, developing equal tech access for all students and focusing on quality content have helped with the successful rollout of a distance-learning program in Los Angeles County's Newhall School District, Superintendent Jeff Pelzel explains. He outlines three other steps his district is taking as its program evolves.
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