Families and communities need schools to be ready to reopen as soon as public health officials signal that it is safe. After all, the nation has recently been reminded just how vital schools really are. Schools con­nect students with peers and mentors, channel youth­ful energy into productive pursuits, teach essential academic skills and knowledge and give overwhelmed parents room to breathe and work. Reopening schools in a manner that is safe and responsive to the needs of families and communities will involve novel chal­lenges. Leaders must begin planning immediately.

Together with a task force of accomplished educa­tional leaders—including former state chiefs, super­intendents, federal education officials, and charter network leaders—this report sketches a framework that can help state policymakers, education and com­munity leaders, and federal officials plan appropri­ately for reopening.

As communities and public officials start to think about the problems ahead, states, districts, and schools should consider at least six different buck­ets of work: school operations, whole child supports, school personnel, academics, distance learning, and other general considerations.

Adapting to the challenges of COVID-19 gives America’s schools the opportunity to provide what is uniquely possible in the schoolhouse while seek­ing new ways to fully use technology and community partnerships. We understand the enormity of these burdens. This is a moment when all of us—educators, families, and communities—must find ways to ensure that children get back the schools and con­nections so important to their young lives. When schools get the green light to go, they must be ready. That work starts now.

 

Thanks to The American Enterprise Institute for the contributing information.