As Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez once wrote, ““It is easier to start a war than to end it.” The same can be said about education’s battle with covid-19 — starting with the abrupt closing of over 90% of the schools around the country in March and leading to the return to school (or some variation thereof) in the coming weeks or months. As monumentally challenging as the closing of school was just a few weeks go, the challenge of re-entry is all the more enormous and onerous — fueled by uncertainty, health risks, insufficient resources, limited knowledge, trauma, hunger, partisan politics, to name just a few.
Education leaders at the local and state levels are facing complex interrelated questions not only about when to re-open, but also about how it can be safely done, what should be delivered, and why it needs to happen. Many of these issues center on equity and the access to high quality instruction and opportunity and, then, they flare out in all sorts of operational and practical directions. This USA Today report lays out a nightmarish scenario for the return.
In response, various education policy groups and leaders have done some terrific thinking and doing in the past ten days to provide ideas and strategies for education decision makers in the whole process of return and reentry. Here is a sampling:
- American Federation of Teachers “A Plan to Safely Reopen America’s Schools and Communities”
- Center for American Progress “Ensuring Equitable Pathways for the Class of 2020 Amid the Coronavirus”
- American Enterprise Institute “School district responses to the COVID-19 pandemic: Round 3, plans for a remote finish
- Council of Great City Schools “Letter Congress”
- Education Trust A P-12 Education Agenda in Response to COVID-19
- Vivian Tseng’s “Transforming Evidence for Policy in the Wake of COVID-19”
- American Enterprise Institute “A Blueprint for Back to School”
- Council of Chief State School Officers “Restart and Recovery” framework
- National Academies guidelines to schools
- Fordham Institute “The Education Gadfly Show: Schools and social distancing: Just hard, or actually impossible?”
- Brookings” Avoiding the COVID-19 Slump: Making Up for Lost Time”.
- Aspen Institute “Recovery and Renewal: Principles for Advancing Public Education Post-Crisis”
And as with war, the education’s battle with COVID-19 will not just end suddenly with the return to school. The impacts will continue for many months, if not years, as schooling adapts to a permanent new normal.