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Saturday, May 1, 2021

COVID-19, the educational equity crisis, and the opportunity ahead - ,The Brookings Institution

COVID-19, the educational equity crisis, and the opportunity ahead
COVID-19, the educational equity crisis, and the opportunity ahead

As the one-year anniversary of campus closures due to COVID-19 passed last March, nearly half of America’s children were 
attending schools operating remotely or open only on a hybrid basis. In California, more than 70% of students were attending schools that were fully remote.

But spring brings new hope. Amid steps to ensure safe health practices and the acceleration of vaccinations, the rates of transmission have decreased from earlier peaks in the winter and students are beginning to return to school.

While the return of students to campus is something to celebrate, it is essential to note that the pandemic and related prolonged school disruptions have and will continue to have a profound impact on the lives and learning of students.

Due to inequitable access to health care, income inequality, and disproportionate employment in high-risk, “essential” jobs, low-income, Black, Latino, and Native American communities have borne the brunt of the pandemic, with dire health and economic impacts that hinder their children’s educational opportunities and learning. It is difficult for children to learn if they are sick or hungry, or if they have family members who are sick or even dying. Some students have found themselves without a safe, stable place to live, lacking basic necessities, and disconnected from needed services and supports when schools—a primary avenue for public service delivery—closed for months on end. CONTINUE READING: COVID-19, the educational equity crisis, and the opportunity ahead

Recommendations for a restorative restart

1. Center relationships.
• Connect 1:1 with every family and every student to build partnerships, trust, and communication between families and educators.
• Create dedicated time and space for relationship-building and re-engagement.
• Implement positive and restorative discipline practices.
2. Address whole-child needs.
• Conduct regular student wellness screenings.
• Assess student learning and review data on attendance, engagement, grades, and stakeholder perceptions about school conditions and climate.
• Create an action plan to meet the individualized whole-child needs of every student, by addressing student trauma, implementing community schools strategies, and better aligning services within schools and districts to meet students’ diverse needs.
3. Strengthen staffing & partnerships.
• Pair students with high-dosage tutoring and mentoring.
• Provide mental health supports.
• Offer expanded learning opportunities, including those in the summer and in out-of-school time, that are hands-on, fun and engaging, student-centered, and complementary to classroom learning.
• Staff up to support student re-engagement by hiring new staff, liaisons, and community partners.
4. Make teaching & learning relevant & rigorous.
• Advance racial equity and cultural responsiveness through instructional materials and books.
• Advance racial equity in teaching through providing all educators with professional development opportunities and strategies and tools.
• Offer students choice and voice in their learning.
• Focus on priority standards and lessons to accelerate rather than remediate learning.
5. Empower teams to rebuild & reimagine systems.
• Create restorative restart and transformation teams so that this work is systematized and continues long term.
• Establish a districtwide vision and framework for transformational and systemic change.