NPR – 9 Ways Schools Will Look Different When (And If) They Reopen

May 15, 2020 | News

PS Reviews: A. Kamenetz’s NPR Article on How School Will Look Different

In the recent NPR article, “9 Ways Schools Will Look Different When (And If) They Reopen”, Anya Kamenetz predicts some of the ways that education will look different in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Three-quarters of the U.S. states have now officially closed their schools for the rest of the academic year,” explains Kamenetz. Educators across the country have been working around the clock to prepare for the fall semester and so much remains undetermined. The severity of the outbreak varies so widely across the country, there isn’t likely to be one answer, said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert (The New York Times). Once new policies and procedures are in place, a continuous feedback system (like Performance Scoring) is the perfect tool to ensure staff and student success is maximized during dynamic times. “Getting kids back in classrooms or other group care is the first priority for getting back to normal,” Kamenetz points out. Whatever the measures that are put in place to get kids back into the classroom, it is safe to say that by the end of the school year some of those measures will have changed.  The suggestions that Kamenetz offers are difficult to contend, but each way comes with its own challenges. Educators will spend their summers preparing for those challenges and adapting their school’s Performance Scoring factors in real-time to reflect new strategies and process.

“Stepped-up health and hygiene measures”

Getting kids back in the classroom means large volumes of people will be coming together and interacting, the perfect combination for the coronavirus. This means new policies and procedures for how students and staff enter and exit the schools, such as wearing face masks and having temperature checks at the door. New policies and procedures for student and staff interactions once they enter the school, such as maintaining social distancing throughout the day. Also, new policies and procedures for cleaning and disinfecting the school both during the day and at night in preparation for the next day. It doesn’t take long for the complexity in managing all of these new policies and procedures to add up, but tools exist to alleviate this stress on educators. Managing so many variables is challenging, and process failures can become nightmares if not detected early. Performance Scoring captures authentic, continuous feedback of performance against each new process and strategy to direct district and school leaders where action is needed in real-time. This ensures compliance, which is critical when people can walk into the school and spread something to their classmates or staff members. A simple sneeze in the classroom can stop everything and require sanitizing, but with Performance Scoring schools will be prepared for success in a rapidly changing environment.

Schedule changes and smaller classes

The dangers of large crowds on campus are best addressed in two ways: schedule changes and smaller class sizes. Expect to see many “class sizes of 12 or fewer,” Kamanetz begins, schools will be “reducing social contact by putting children in the smallest groups possible.” Smaller class sizes translate into more classes, and more to manage for school leaders. Performance Scoring brings each of these new, smaller classes to administrators, capturing authentic data on the factors affecting success in every class. Scheduling changes will have to be implemented to adjust for the increase in the number of classes. There are proposals for staggered schedules during the week, and proposals that call for changes to the start and end of the school year. When you pair this with the aforementioned stepped-up health and hygiene measures, managing the day-to-day operations at schools presents many new challenges. “They should probably be prepared for having to close schools again when and if outbreaks recur,” cautions Kamenetz. The School ScoreBoard in Performance Scoring provides school leaders with a real-time, comprehensive understanding of how their schools are performing amid all of the new policies and procedures that are in effect. At a glance, principals are able to view authentic, school-wide data and know where they need to focus their resources no matter how many additional classes or schedule changes there are.

“Remote learning continues”

It has been a few months since education abruptly shifted completely to remote learning, and all signs are pointing to the fact that remote learning, in some form or fashion, is here to stay. Certainly, there is an expectation for an increase in the number of absences over the year. A student that isn’t feeling well, has a fever, or was recently around someone that may be sick now has the potential to be held from school for 14 days. In our last blog post, we discussed Performance Scoring unifies remote learning solutions and empowers teachers with a new understanding of student performance beyond grades. However, attendance policies will have to be adjusted for another reason; “Schools can open up, but some parents might still choose to keep their children at home,” suggests Kamenetz. As the rush to release a COVID-19 vaccine continues, there will undoubtedly be a population of parents that will not allow their children to physically return to school. This too increases the complexity in managing a school’s scheduling, but also highlights the importance of effective communication to students and parents. Performance Scoring automates the communication of any relevant factors or school updates to students and parents ensuring everyone is on the same page. Generating continuous feedback with Performance Scoring keeps everyone informed, and provides educators with objective data on student performance that teachers would typically receive in the moments during classroom instruction.