From the Blog

10 Considerations for Returning to School After COVID-19

by The Great Schools Partnership 
blog on returning to school after covid 19

The resources collected below have been curated or created by Great Schools Partnership staff to support schools in the coming months as they prepare to safely and equitably reopen. 

  1. Develop a pandemic return plan to ensure physical safety of students and staff. Convene a small planning team to consider logistical and technical changes in activities (movement of students, arrangement of furnishings, busing, lunches, class size, etc.) aligned with best practices outlined by authorities. Consider alternative learning plans, including continued remote learning, for compromised students and staff.

  2. Seek feedback from all staff, students, and families about their experiences during the shutdown. Ask, “What are we learning?” and “How can we improve as we move forward?” Use surveys, virtual focus groups, and reflection time when school reconvenes in person. Consider ways to incorporate these improvements.

  3. Continue regular outreach and communications with families. This pandemic has elevated our awareness of families in need. Identify which communications, connections, and supports have worked best during the shutdown, and what ongoing outreach is needed.

  4. Prioritize staff collaborative time for discussing student needs and progress. Before breaking for summer, provide collaborative time for grade-level or department teams and support staff to plan their return to school, discuss student progress, and plan for instruction. Continue this process during the school year in a regular PLG where educators share concerns, dilemmas, and celebrations with colleagues.

  5. Focus on relationships, trust, and dependability. Start the year with relationship building and establish familiar, dependable routines. Provide time with staff and students to process feelings and concerns and build this time into teaching practice throughout the year. Strong advisory programs and opportunities for looping could be structures to lean on.

  6. Be prepared for increased racial, gender, and socioeconomic tension caused by misinformation, anger, and loss. Reach out to external organizations to develop intentional plans for support during and outside of school hours. Consider models such as restorative circles, affinity groups, and structured advisory time.

  7. Provide space and resources for students and staff to process trauma and loss. Determine the needs of your community and the strengths of your social services staff in dealing with trauma. Invest in training in trauma-informed practices for staff if needed. Consider establishing memorials to pay tribute to those in the school community that were lost during the pandemic. Set up a student-to-student hotline or support groups during the school day.

  8. Collaborate with students regarding work completion during COVID-19. Students will return to school having engaged in learning activities to various degrees. It is possible that students have already mastered skills or content connected to incomplete or missing work. Create learning plans together that allow students to demonstrate their learning while also allowing them to continue making progress.

  9. Assess student progress and plan instruction to meet students where they are in their learning. Utilize pre-assessments based on the most essential standards to gauge where students are in their learning. Identify opportunities in the coming year’s curriculum to integrate priority knowledge or skills missed during the shutdown. Modify schedules and use flexible grouping to build in intervention and extension time.

  10. Engage stakeholders in reviewing and revising your distance learning plan. Based on feedback and experiences, refine your distance learning plan in order to be better prepared the next time an event like an extended COVID-19 closing happens. Consider revisions and updates to policies, practices, and technology that will support students, staff, and families in a remote learning environment.