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A student engages in hybrid learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic

A Collective Effort: K-12 Education During the Pandemic and Beyond

Guest Author: Jami O'Toole and Dan Stasiewski

My kids had one fun-filled day of spring break in March 2020 before the pandemic began to unfold. We had no idea of what was to come. Millions of kids across the United States would not set foot back in a school building or participate in normal school rhythms for months, and many are still learning virtually.

I am personally grateful that I only have to worry about helping two students continue learning virtually. This is not the case for the teachers, school leaders, and other educators who are tackling the unknown and revamping the entire school model to keep all their students learning. I have great admiration for the people collaborating and innovating along the way — those creating a whole new world of teaching and learning.

How Our Partners are Providing Support

This past year has been a rollercoaster of emotions for caregivers, students, and teachers. We have felt trepidation as we wade through the new world of virtual learning; sorrow as we mourn the loss of connectedness from seeing friends and teachers in-person; hope as we see sparks of innovation born out of necessity in virtual classrooms; and optimism as the vaccine rollout begins.

We see our partners and so many others putting in hard work and stepping up to meet this unprecedented moment. This includes prioritizing time for social and emotional check-ins with students, strengthening curriculum so teachers can focus their time on teaching, finding creative ways to keep students engaged, putting broadband connections on buses in neighborhoods without internet access, connecting with caregivers who are supporting at-home learning, and more.

Our latest video series highlights several ways our partners are providing resources, solving problems, and supporting educators and teachers in their networks — the incredible individuals who are working tirelessly to keep the school year going as best they can for students.

Here’s more about the organizations you will meet, and the work each are continuing.

  • Teach Plus is assisting Teacher-Leaders across the country in developing custom plans for their schools that focus on challenges like recovery of learning loss, support for students with pandemic-related trauma, and reinforcing strong family-teacher relationships. Teach Plus is also hosting virtual professional development communities for its teachers so they can support and learn from one another during this pivotal time.
  • Charter School Growth Fund is helping more than 1,000 public schools determine the best courses of action to serve their student populations through the pandemic. From counseling schools on situations like handling COVID-19-related financial implications or offering best practices in deploying technology to students, the Charter School Growth Fund is collaborating with its school network so they can best support their families and students.
  • The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is supporting states in preparedness and response efforts. The organization developed a comprehensive Restart & Recovery Framework that offers recommendations for state school leaders on timely topics like collecting and reporting data to understand student engagement and learning loss, community engagement best practices, and addressing declining kindergarten enrollment.

We appreciate the commitment from our partners, and so many other educators, teachers, families, and students as they stay the course of this school year. As you’ll hear Carissa Moffat Miller of CCSSO state in one of the videos, “So many people care about getting this right for kids.”  

Social-Emotional Support Matters

Dedicating time to focus on the whole student builds trust.

Family and Teacher Partnerships Matter

Prioritizing family and teacher partnerships is more important than ever.

Quality Curriculum Matters

Implementing a high-quality curriculum ensures kids learn at their best.