Preparing for 2020-2021, When There’s No Way to Know What to Expect

By Sharon Kunde

Teachers are currently closing out the school year and laying the groundwork for the next. But there is, of course, a problem: none of us know what kind of situation we’ll come back to. While school districts and teachers’ unions discuss physical conditions that might make in-person teaching possible (things like reduced schedules, classroom sanitization, extra buses), it remains likely that many of us will use online instruction, either in a blended or intermittent fashion.

In the face of these uncertainties, teachers can prepare this summer by thinking broadly and flexibly about their educational goals. What follows are four guidelines for designing curriculum plans for new and shifting teaching circumstances.

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The Effects of COVID-19 Are Not Just Academic: Preparing for Reopened Classrooms

By Jonna Kuskey

To say the 2020-21 school year will begin a little differently than most is an understatement. Public health experts have indicated schools may still be dealing with the effects of the pandemic in the new year, which means more remote and online learning may be on the horizon, and we need to be ready if that occurs. We also need to be ready for the COVID-19 slide, much like the typical summer slide, only steeper. A study by Kuhfeld, et al, “Projecting the Potential Impacts of COVID-19 School Closures on Academic Achievement,” projects students will begin this year with “approximately 63-68% of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year” and 37-50% in math.1 

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From Our Editors: Selected Articles on Post-Pandemic Planning

  • From Mary Burns on Edutopia:

Getting Ready to Teach Next Year

  • From Emily Tate on EdSurge:

What Will Schools Do in the Fall? Here Are 4 Possible Scenarios

  • From Heather C. Hill & Susanna Loeb on Education Week:

How to Contend with Pandemic Learning Loss

  • From Gene Kerns and Katie McClarty on EdSurge:

How Schools Can Prepare for a Very Different Kind of School Year

  • From Sarah Cooper on Edutopia:

Distance Learning Strategies to Bring Back to the Classroom

  • From Susan Page on USA Today:

Back to school? 1 in 5 teachers are unlikely to return to reopened classrooms this fall, poll says

  • From David Saleh Rauf on Education Week:

Will COVID-19 Spur Greater Use of Artificial Intelligence in K-12 Education?

  • From Gina Denny on Education Week Teacher:

6 Classroom Changes Teachers Will Make When Schools Reopen

  • From Erika Christakis on The Atlantic:

For Schools, the List of Obstacles Grows and Grows

  • From Sarah Gonser on Edutopia:

How Long-Term Tech Planning Pays Off—Now and In the Future

Catching Up After COVID: Maximizing What Kids Know

By Miriam Plotinsky

As the school year draws to a close, educators nationwide are looking ahead to the daunting prospect of catching students up in the fall. Seen from a deficit mindset, meeting a broad range of student needs once the 2020-2021 school year begins seems to be an impossible charge. Without delegitimizing the concerns about what students have missed, particularly those who have not received distance instruction for a multitude of reasons, we must give students credit for their knowledge—which is vaster than we realize—as we prepare for next year.

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Schools have survived crises before, and even come out stronger

By David Nurenberg

As we face the possibility that COVID-19 could force schools to remain remote-operating well into the fall, many are wondering if the shape of schooling is going to permanently change. Will some degree of distance learning remain the new normal? Will some cash-strapped school districts operate entirely online to save on the costs of maintaining physical school infrastructure, including custodial, cafeteria, and transportation workers? Will in-person schooling become a luxury good? Will homeschooling become an expected function of all parents’ and guardians’ lives? Will schools leverage Internet-based relationships across city, state and national borders to become a global learning community?

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