The COVID-19 pandemic has presented our community with many complex challenges, including how we will safely educate our 21,000 students. The priority of safely and effectively educating our students must be balanced with the safety of our 3,600 employees and also the financial impact of the pandemic on jobs and our families.
Providing in-person instructional services to our students will require all students, faculty, and staff to practice social distancing, wear a face-covering or mask, conduct daily temperature checks, and assist with contact tracing. Additionally, we should all expect that returning to campus will require a shared commitment to daily hygiene practices including frequent handwashing and symptom-checking.
Trying to balance the health of students, families, and staff along with the need to return to school for the academic, social, and emotional development of our children is challenging.
We recognize that each family must make decisions based on what is best for their own family.
While we cannot eliminate risks altogether, we believe that by following the state and federal guidance listed above we can together significantly reduce the risk of potentially spreading COVID-19 on our campuses. Doing so, however, will require a shared commitment by each of us to take care of ourselves, our families, and everyone in our schools.
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Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center School Leaders Forum Video 11/4/2020
(Courtesy Cincinnati Children's Medical Center)
(Safe & Healthy and Symptoms slides are courtesy of Beaumont Health and Cincinnati Children's Medical Center)
(Courtesy Cincinnati Children's Medical Center)
The Importance of Wearing a Mask
(Courtesy St. Elizabeth Healthcare)
Guiding Principles for Reopening
(Boone County Schools has adopted AASA guiding principals)
Plan for Multiple Reopening Scenarios and Contingencies to Ensure the Health, Safety and Well-Being of All Students and Staff:
It is essential that district leaders and staff anticipate multiple potential scenarios associated with the reopening process. These may include a return to in-person learning, the continuation of virtual learning, or a blended approach involving some students and staff returning to in-person learning while others continue to participate in remote learning. Policies and procedures must be in place and maintained consistently for attendance, health screening and quarantine procedures, school closures, social distancing, hygiene, and cleaning aligned with the unique challenges of each scenario (informed by the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Build a COVID-19-Response Reopening Infrastructure Aligned with Changing Scenarios and Needs:
Leaders and staff must prepare for a changing landscape when reopening occurs. They must give careful consideration to safety and sanitation, the implications of social distancing, and shifting roles and duties of staff as education returns to some form of normalcy. Accommodations must be made to address learning loss as well as ensuring support services for students, staff and families extending from the crisis.
Ensure Students’ and Families’ Equitable Access to Technology Required for Virtual Learning:
The COVID-19 crisis has focused a stark spotlight on the many inequities evident in our diverse student populations. A critically important priority is the continuation of affordable access for all learners to broadband connectivity, the internet and related hardware. Task force members support AASA’s recent letter to Congress urging them to support all students displaced from their classrooms, including $4 billion in direct funds to the Federal Communications Commission’s Schools and Libraries Program, commonly called the E-Rate program, to help connect millions of students to the internet.
Provide Continuing Support to Students and Adults to Address Their Immediate and Long-Term Physical, Psychological, Social and Emotional Needs:
Without question, social and emotional learning (SEL) has emerged as a critical priority. The psychological, interpersonal and emotional needs of students, staff and families must become a key focal point as some form of reopening occurs. In addition to requisite services and resources, SEL strategies and techniques must become a consistent part of classroom instruction, reinforcing safety, well-being and engagement within the learning community.
Ensure All Schools Are Trauma-Informed and Trauma-Skilled:
Extensive professional development is necessary to ensure that staff understand the long-term effects of various forms of trauma (i.e., physical, psychological/mental, and relational). As staff become trauma-informed, district leaders and staff must ensure that policies, practices and staff capacities are in place to address the impact of trauma in its various forms and ensure that schools are safe spaces within which individuals and groups can express their concerns, anxieties and fears.
Prepare for COVID-19-Related Changes in Human Resource Management and Practices:
Educational leaders must prepare for a variety of potential human resource and related contractual issues that may extend into the reopening process. These can range from salary concerns and elimination of negotiated cost-of-living raises to potential contingencies such as staff members’ inability to return to full-time in-person employment because of health situations or family obligations.
Offer Ongoing Personalized and Differentiated Professional Learning:
In the new educational environment we are entering, educational leaders must ensure that sustained professional development is available for administrators, teachers and support staff on a range of crisis-related issues. These include strategies for making virtual learning engaging and interactive, addressing SEL needs among students and staff, and enhancing staff understanding of what it means to be trauma-informed and trauma-skilled.
Transform the Teaching-Learning-Assessment Process to Ensure Personalization, Engagement and Differentiation:
Educators throughout the United States have confirmed that the COVID-19 crisis has revealed the power and importance of transforming teaching and learning as we typically practice them. Classrooms must be safe, healthy and inviting learning communities. We also must ensure that all students feel respected, acknowledged and efficacious in their learning process. For example, curriculum must be culturally responsive and relevant, organized around such connecting schema as themes, universal and enduring understandings, and essential questions. Similarly, we must overcome our prior tendencies to “teach to the test,” expanding our assessment repertoire to include a balance of formative assessment, criterion-based coaching and feedback, and summative assessment that is performance-centered and—whenever possible—project-based. Classrooms and schools must become increasingly personalized, engaging and differentiated environments that acknowledge and address students’ varying readiness levels, interests and learner profiles.
Anticipate COVID-19-Related Budget and Fiscal Management Issues:
Without question, these are unprecedented times in terms of public health and economic well-being. As schools reopen, educators must be alert to potential funding shortages, shortfalls, and budget reallocation to fund a range of health and sanitation supplies (e.g., thermometers, tele-scanning devices, sanitation supplies and materials) as well as budgetary implications of social-distancing requirements (e.g., funding for expanded transportation such as buses as well as enhancements of classroom spaces and furniture arrangements).
Embrace a New Paradigm for Public Education:
Educators will benefit from viewing the COVID-19 crisis as a breakthrough opportunity to transform schools and education as we know them. The crisis has reinforced long-standing inequities and imbalances within the United States extending from racial, ethnic, cultural and geographic divides. The lessons we have learned during the pandemic can lead us to a new way of ensuring the achievement of all learners while emphasizing their physical development and health issues, as well as their social-emotional learning progress.
American Association of School Administrators Website