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COVID Current Events as of June 15, 2020

News and updates to inform school system leaders on managing through uncertainty

Each week, we have been collecting news articles, publications and other items of interest related to COVID and schools to inform ERS' own work to support school districts to manage through the uncertainty. We wanted to make this collection available to district leaders, school leaders, state education leaders and other partners working towards reimagining what school could look like during and after COVID-19. These items are pulled from many sources, but we want to especially acknowledge EdWeek, ASBO's School Business Daily and Vestigo Partners, whose great COVID resources we highly recommend.

Constraints from Social Distancing:

  • In an NYT poll of 132 epidemiologists, 70% of respondents said they’d send their children back to school in the Fall or sooner
  • Politico: "Denmark, Austria and Germany  began sending children back to classrooms in April and early May, and haven’t seen significant increases in new cases… experts are cautiously optimistic that sending children back to school may be relatively safe."
  • However, in Israel schools were once again shut down as the virus spiked, including 130 cases (116 students & 14 teachers) in a single middle/high school

 Student Need:

  • EdTrust CEO John B. King Jr. testified before U.S. Senate on going back to school safely, emphasizing the relationship between COVID and the history of racism:
    • “As schools reopen, our nation’s students of color and their families also find themselves enduring a pandemic that disproportionately impacts their health and safety, mired in an economic crisis that disproportionately affects their financial well-being, and living in a country that too often still struggles to recognize their humanity." 

Revenue/Cost Projections:

  • The NEA calls for $250B in new federal aid based on:
    • CBPP’s projected state revenue loss of $765B over 3 years
    • Learning Policy Institute’s estimate that schools will be short $230B over the next 2 years
    • The AFT released a report, Reopening Schools During a Time of Triple Crisis, that estimates the additional cost of serving students in next year to be $116.5B
      • It will cost the average school an extra $1.2M or $2,300 per student
      • The largest cost buckets are instructional staff ($35B) and additional academic supports ($36B)
      • The Palm Beach superintendent announced that they’re preparing scenarios of 5%, 10%, 15%, and 20% budget cuts – he’s hoping to fill any budget gaps with a hiring freeze

Implications for Systems:

  • 469,000 public school district employees lost their jobs in April alone – this is compared to 300,000 jobs lost during the great recession
  • Tension between state reopening mandates and district-specific plans as local context may not be reflective of state-wide conditions – this is particularly stark for rural communities
    • The debate in Ohio over the need for masks in schools may be indicative of what’s to come across the country
    • Akron Schools expects to spend at least $2M on masks for students and staff in the next school year
    • School Transportation News released a summary of state-specific transportation guidance

Implications for Schools:

  • Denver Public Schools released three potential hybrid schedules with the aim of all students receiving in-person instruction at least 40% of the time
    • A/B days: alternating every day with Fridays reserved for high-priority students
    • AA/BB days: students have in-person instruction 2 days in a row, with Fridays reserved for high-priority students
    • A/B weeks: students alternate in-person instruction each week for 4 days, with Fridays reserved for high-priority students
    • Dallas ISD released three hybrid schedules they’re considering:
      • Splitting the schedule: half of the students, probably divided by grade level, would attend in-person classes on Mondays and Tuesdays, with the other half going Wednesdays and Thursdays
      • Spreading elementary enrollments to campuses throughout the district while secondary students work 100% remotely.
      • Giving parental choice on whether they want students to work remotely
      • Coronavirus and the Classroom provides detailed guidance and additional resources for the following:
        • Ensuring equity in fiscal policies: provide greater per-pupil allocations of emergency-response funds in schools serving high concentrations of students from low-income backgrounds
        • Meet students’ basic needs: Continue to provide meals even while remote, provide remote mental health services, address learning gaps
        • Expand and improve remote learning: Beyond providing access to families with technology and connectivity, ensure that teachers are properly trained in remote instruction and differentiation
        • Ease the high school–to–college transition: Outreach and summer bridge programs for graduating seniors
        • Extended learning time
        • Determine students’ academic, social, and emotional needs: Conduct high-quality assessments from the very outset of the school year
        • TN DOE Reopening Plans:
          • Provides variable guidance based on virus presence
          • List pros and cons based on different hybrid schedule options



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