July and August are typically the months where K-12 students are settling into their summer routines and schools are beginning to prepare for the upcoming school year. Teachers would have handed out packets and summer readings. This may have been the case in previous school years, but this year is different. Due to the current worldwide pandemic, many school districts are struggling to find the best plan for the 2020-2021 school year. The three most common school opening options are: in-person, remote, or a hybrid option.
All schools made a decisive decision to close schools in March and deploy a remote learning option for students to finish the school year. The shift to remote learning was something widely accepted across the country for the safety of students, teachers and other school staff. When it comes to reopening, school districts are waiting to see if cases are still on the rise in their state, or how to best implement a safe reopening plan for teachers and students. Most schools across the country are delaying the start of school to buy more time to determine the best course for their district. However, now the delayed reopening plans bring about a new fear: are students going to experience significant learning loss?
Answering this question is complicated given the unique circumstances we live in today due to COVID-19. Current school closures have added to the time most students already spend at home during the summer months without face-to-face instruction from teachers. Meanwhile, teachers are planning to adapt content for an online learning environment and parents are trying to figure out how they will juggle work responsibilities as well as caring for and assisting their children with the online education. During a typical school year, students often experience some sort of learning loss over the summer months. Teachers typically spend the first several weeks re-teaching lessons and assessing where their students are academically. However, due to COVID-19 school closures, the learning loss for students may be greater.
Teachers always rise to the occasion and will have a greater responsibility when school starts back. Re-teaching and catching up students that are behind, as well as focusing on the current curriculum, will be important to ensure students continue moving forward and are ready for the future. While the shift to remote learning in March was very abrupt, teachers have had more time to prepare. Adapting curricula for in-person, remote or hybrid options will still be difficult, but with the understanding of the learning loss that has taken place, students can expect teachers to be more prepared. How do we support educators and families during and after the COVID-19 crisis?
UKG is helping where it can with reopening plans to ensure the safety and security of teachers and staff. Contact tracing, offered for free with all our suites, allows districts to quickly and easily identify potential exposures while Mobile capabilities allow for lower contact risk. And with Attestation, school districts can have employees confirm they are not experiencing any symptoms related to COVID-19. There are still many unknowns as phased reopenings begin, but UKG is here to assist districts as they prepare for the next normal.