School closures during the COVID-19 pandemic have taken a particularly heavy toll on students in marginalized communities. Recent data suggests that all US students are months behind in reading and math, and those numbers are even higher in marginalized student groups. Schools are currently trying to prevent further learning loss by bringing certain populations back on campus while also improving access to remote learning.
These stop-gap measures will not be enough; schools will need to accelerate learning opportunities to help students meet their full potential in the years to come. Below, we highlight some of the most useful strategies from the COVID-19 School Response Kit, developed by The New Teacher Project (TNTP), a non-profit organization with a mission of ensuring that poor and minority students get equal access to effective teachers.
Mental Health – The first step to addressing student and staff mental health can be found in the Planning for Wellbeing and Connection Guide. Given both the unprecedented global pandemic and social upheaval that the United States has experienced as the nation reckons with its legacy of systemic racism, systems must prioritize attending to and caring for wellbeing and connectedness so that students thrive in their educational experiences.
Family and Community Engagement – 5 Essentials for Engaging Communities and Families in Reopening shares detailed strategies for reaching families and communities to kick off the engagement process.
Learning Acceleration – The Learning Acceleration Guide gives schools and teachers step-by-step strategies to identify what unfinished learning needs to be addressed, as well as when and how.
Summer School – Planning for Summer School in 2021 helps schools shift their focus from surviving the crisis to helping students recover. It starts from a basic principle: summer school is just the first step on a long journey and should be the springboard to a comprehensive plan to accelerate students back to grade level in the years ahead. The “right” approach to summer learning depends on the level of hardship students have experienced, and this guide will help you determine the best fit!
Promising Reopening Programs – In addition to TNTP’s resources, UCLA’s Center for the Transformation of Schools’ Beyond the Schoolhouse: Digging Deeper, covers COVID-19 and reopening schools for Black students. As schools begin the journey back to in-person instruction, they also have the opportunity to reimagine and recreate what learning looks and feels like. UCLA’s Center for Transformation of Schools provides a glimpse into some promising models and programs that are serving Black students well.
Thanks for reading! We hope these resources are a helpful addition to your toolkit as you focus on reopening schools for all kids! While you’re here, browse through our other resources for educators at Cross Country Education.