We’ve now reached the seventh week of our new education reality. Nearly all states–43 of 50–have announced they will not reopen school buildings this school year.
At the same time, it is increasingly clear that we can’t afford to simply wait until we can return to normal. We will likely be grappling with the challenges created by Covid-19 for much of the next school year as well. As CDC Director Robert Redfield told the Washington Post: “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through.” Or put more colorfully by the New York Times’ science and health reporter Donald McNeil: communities may need to “dance” in and out of shutdowns for the next year or two before this crisis is truly over.
Last week we shined a spotlight on how we can prepare for an uncertain future and the importance of prioritizing the needs of students in how federal stimulus funding is put to use. This week we focus on how we can reimagine rather than cancel summer programs and the need to ensure every school is a resilient school that can adapt in what will certainly be a challenging summer and fall.
FROM THE FIELD
“The coronavirus has brought much of the American economy to a halt,” writes Matt Barnum for Chalkbeat. “Another recession is possible, even likely. And the poorest school districts, which are particularly reliant on state funds, may once again bear the brunt of the budget crunch.”
It’s for this reason that the way federal stimulus funds are spent over the next few months will make such a big difference for kids. To ensure this funding is put to the best use, JerseyCAN launched a coalition to demand their federal representatives and senators address the financial shortfalls, while DelawareCAN put out specific recommendations about serving and protecting the immigrant community during and in the aftermath of Covid-19. The TennesseeCAN and CarolinaCAN teams released recommendations for the highest-impact ways for stimulus funds to be spent. Recognizing that awareness of how funding is spent is crucial, NewMexicoKidsCAN joined a coalition asking Secretary DeVos for new transparency requirements. Meanwhile, as states, like ConnCAN, are surveying parents to ground their advocacy in what families are experiencing, we’re seeing broad differences in the quality of instruction students are receiving.
Moment of Resilience
Each of these boxes, stacked in a school gymnasium in Baltimore, has a laptop ready to be sent to students in one of the most impoverished cities in America. There are 10,000 more boxes just like these. It’s a reminder that even as we enter Week 7, there are countless individuals across the country working long hours to bridge the technology divide so that students can learn no matter how long this crisis lasts.