In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, schools across the country have been forced to shut down for the foreseeable future—possibly even until next fall. Although teachers are doing their best to provide parents with suggestions to encourage learning at home, they have no way of directly ensuring high quality education for students. These extended periods away from school threaten to disproportionately impact at-risk students.
Which students are most negatively impacted by COVID-19?
School closures threaten to disproportionately impact students who:
- Have IEPs and/or are served by IDEA — Parents often lack the knowledge and skills needed to offer intervention and other supports to students with special needs.
- Were already struggling with a particular subject before school closures — Students with slipping math, reading, and other scores need differentiated education which parents may not be equipped to provide.
- Don’t have reliable access to technology — Even students who are provided with laptops from their schools may not be able to connect to the internet from home depending on where they live or whether their parents know how to help them get connected.
- Are served by ESL or ELL programs — Students who are still learning English or whose parents can’t speak English may not be able to understand teachers’ recommendations for remote learning at home.
How can principals and other school leaders support students impacted by COVID-19 school closures?
Here are our recommendations for collaborating with parents to support students’ remote education during the COVID-10 pandemic:
1. Adopt the attitude that “Less is more.”
Parents who are searching for ways to continue their students’ education at home can easily become overwhelmed with information. Parents are not only receiving advice from teachers, but also from their friends, social media channels, news outlets, and more. When communicating with parents, provide no more than two or three resources for parents to explore.
2. Provide specific, clear recommendations.
Many news and blog articles that are being circulated with at-home learning ideas simply give parents a list of websites or mobile apps to try using with their children. Help parents understand what their students were learning in the classroom before your school closed, and provide specific instructions they can follow to effectively use the resources you have recommended.
3. Make sure your recommendations are accessible for all students.
There are plenty of issues which could prohibit students from accessing your recommended remote learning solutions; parents may not know how to help their students connect to online resources, or students may have special needs requiring accommodations. Here are some ways you can ensure your remote learning plans are accessible for all students:
- Follow UDL best practices for online learning as you prepare digital materials and resources.
- Provide multiple options for the ways students can view and consume the learning material.
- Provide multiple options for the ways students can express their understanding of the material.
- Provide multiple options for the ways students can continue to engage with the knowledge they’ve learned.
What are some free online resources schools can use to support remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic?
There are countless software solutions, websites, and apps available to schools who are bringing their lessons online for the first time. We’ve narrowed down some of our favorite free digital resources to help you get started:
- Google Classroom — This free platform from Google helps teachers store all their Google Docs, Google Forms, and other resources in one place. They can also use this platform to connect with students and parents through forums, create assignments and assessments, and schedule sequenced learning activities.
- LearnZillion — This website offers 3-10-minute instructional videos helping K-12 students understand math and English language arts topics. During COVID-19 school closures, LearnZillion is offering free access to their entire video library.
- Education.com — This website offers lesson plans, worksheets, and games to support K-12 students learning at home.
- Tales2Go — K-12 students can download this app with a free one-month trial and listen to audiobooks targeting different age groups, grade levels, and subjects of interest.
- Epic! — Epic! is free for elementary school educators, and families can log in at home with a free one-month trial period. This app features ebooks, audio books, educational videos, and quizzes for K-5 students.
- Reading A-Z — Reading A-Z offers some free samples and a free 14-day trial to help parents and teachers support K-5 students’ reading at home.
Where can school leaders find professional development during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The Center for Student Achievement Solutions offers proven professional development and leadership development training supports for school principals and district-level staff so you can effectively support your students’ remote learning during this time of crisis. Schedule a free call with us now to discuss our collaborative solutions for your school leaders.