7 predictions about fall back-to-school with COVID


When schools across the country started shutting down in-person instruction in March of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 virus, much of the nation focus turned to the impact on students.

Educators, parents, stakeholders, and policymakers still wonder if remote learning is working, how much learning loss students will suffer, how schools can mitigate the impact on students, and–perhaps most pressing of all–what back-to-school will look like in the fall.

As schools wrap up the 2020-2021 school year, researchers and executives at the nonprofit NWEA are sharing predictions about the short- and long-term educational impacts we can expect to see.

1. Back to school will not mean “back to normal”: “If we expect back-to-school to be back to normal, then we missed the mark. Nothing about the past year was typical. Each student was impacted by the pandemic differently so our approach to recovery must be as unique as them. And it can’t just be about catching kids up by cramming more into the following year or holding them back. We must focus on the critical areas of unfinished learning while also attending to the mental well-being of our kids: many of whom completely disconnected from their teachers and peers for an entire year and may just now be returning back. The arc of their education will look very different (and it must) than for students who had continued access to learning. We must also recognize that we’re still at mile one of a massive marathon. While the pandemic may be subsiding as more and more vaccines are available, the long-term impacts of this past year are yet to be fully understood. From a kindergarten bubble coming this fall to better, more equitable approaches to grading policies – our education system has and will continue to be fundamentally changed. It’s time to challenge what returning to normal means and ask, ‘What will it take to truly commit to the success of all kids?’” – Chris Minnich, CEO, NWEA

Laura Ascione
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