September 22, 2020

Promise in the Time of Quarantine: Exploring Schools’ Responses to COVID-19

By Ashley LiBetti | Lynne Graziano | Jennifer O’Neal Schiess

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COVID-19 has altered education as we know it, and no one school has found the perfect approach to distance learning. Every school struggles with the dual priorities of sustaining student learning and ensuring students are safe, fed, and well, all outside of the school building.

However, some schools more quickly adopted promising practices in response to common challenges, offering lessons for other schools seeking to improve their distance learning models.

Promise in the Time of Quarantine: Exploring Schools’ Responses to COVID-19 highlights 12 district and charter schools from across the country:

  • Breakthrough Public Schools (Ohio)
  • Gentry School District (Arkansas)
  • Hamilton Grange Middle School (New York)
  • Impact Public Schools (Washington)
  • Kairos Academies (Missouri)
  • KIPP Columbus High School (Ohio)
  • Nampa School District (Idaho)
  • Rocketship Public Schools (California, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and D.C.)
  • Steel City Academy (Indiana)
  • Summit Sierra High School (Washington)
  • Treasure Valley Classical Academy (Idaho)
  • Uncommon Schools (Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York)

After interviewing school leaders, combing through instructional materials, and listening to dozens of teachers in small focus groups, we captured best practices across eight categories:

  • Providing human capital support and adjustments;
  • Innovating instructional content and approaches;
  • Serving special student populations;
  • Big-picture planning and establishing core principles;
  • Designing data-intensive approaches;
  • Focusing on social-emotional learning;
  • Creating supportive school-student connections; and
  • Building relationships with families and communities.

As schools once again consider instructional practices, student and family well-being, and curricula amid a global pandemic, these case studies are an opportunity to learn from recent successes and struggles.

Download the report here or read it in the viewer below.

For a deeper understanding of some of these promising practices, join a webinar on Thursday, October 1 at 2 p.m. EDT with leaders from Uncommon Schools, Gentry Public Schools, and Summit Public Schools. Click to register: Promise in the Time of Quarantine: A Discussion of Best Practices in Distance Learning with School and System Leaders.

This report was developed in partnership with Teach For America and with support from the Cognizant U.S. Foundation.

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