As a parent of rising first-grader whose kindergarten year just wrapped up virtually, I’ve been closely attuned to the conversation around returning to school in fall 2020. At this point, it seems like there are three common scenarios:
- learning takes place in-person,
- learning takes place via a hybrid model of in-person and online learning, and,
- learning takes place online.
As a working mother, when I think about these three options, I feel a sense of rising panic and think to myself, “Please, let them go back to school!” However, as part of the Capacity Building Team at the National Comprehensive Center, I also realize the challenges and uncertainty that states and districts face as they plan a return to school—and it’s just not that simple. Even if students are able to physically return to school in the fall, it won’t mean returning to the way things were prior to COVID-19. And, there can’t be a “one-size-fits-all” approach to planning for returning to school. Rather, states and the Regional Centers that support them have been developing individualized plans, each tailored to a given context. In some ways, as I think about these return to school plans and some of the changes that will need to be made, I feel a sense of loss—potentially a loss of busy lunches in the cafeteria; sports; and crowded hallways. However, as others are pointing out, we should also see this as an opportunity to “envision new ways” of schooling (phrasing credited to our colleagues working on the National Center’s Systemic Technical Assistance Team—STAT), including making school more equitable and prioritizing the needs of under-served and at-risk students in ways that we haven’t in the past.
To support this complicated work, the National Center has collected selected resources that Regional Centers can use and share with states as we collectively navigate this unpredictable path back to school. Just as we’ve been doing with other COVD-19 related collections, we anticipate that we’ll add to this list as resources continue to be developed. In particular, stay tuned for some exciting work that we’ll be posting from our STAT team. The National Center has also started a collection of state plans related to returning to school, which we’ll update as new plans become available and current plans are revised.
As a mother of two and a proud member of the CCNetwork, I’m excited about how we can leverage this resource collection to support states. This way, when all of our kids go back to school—whatever that may look like—they will be going back to a system that’s even better than when they left it.
- Hadley Moore works on the Capacity Building Team for the National Center