As confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, grow daily, administrators and teachers are faced with the daunting challenge of maintaining learning while also taking extraordinary precautions to limit the spread of germs.
The Centers for Disease Control has issued guidance and recommendations for school leaders as confirmed cases of coronavirus spread across the nation, and has noted that schools should plan for the possibility of extended closures and should put plans in place to disrupt learning as little as possible.
The majority of states and districts have already taken action. Dr. Michelle Reid, superintendent of the Northshore School District in Washington, announced the decision to close all school sites beginning March 5 as district leaders monitor the situation and health department recommendations.
The district’s instructional staff worked with students and teachers to make sure they are able to use the district’s online learning platform, and the district has set up a site with classroom-to-cloud information to help students and parents/guardians. The district is loaning devices and internet hot spots to students without home access.
Here are 10 developments intended to make learning a bit easier in the event your school or district closes for an extended period of time.
1. Discovery Education announced that U.S. schools or school systems that are not currently using Discovery Education resources, but are experiencing closures due to the coronavirus, will have free access to Discovery Education Experience through the remainder of the school year. To request access to Discovery Education Experience, principals and superintendents of affected school or school districts are encouraged to email Discovery Education at EducationPartnerships@discoveryed.com.
2. Quizlet put together a resource highlighting how digital tools and services, such as video conferencing, online document editing, and digital learning tools can help if schools are closed for extended or undertermined periods of time due to illness or in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
3. Common Sense has curated top pick lists and resources to help teachers prepare for and make the most of teaching and learning during school closures. Common Sense also has compiled a list of resources to help parents and caregivers facilitate their child’s learning at home. Resources include subject-specific apps, studying resources, tools to help students focus, and more.
4. Nucamp released some tips to help educators move from in-person instruction to online instruction in the event that schools or districts close. Some of those tips include flipping the classroom, taking instructional breaks, and encouraging students to turn on their webcams and participate in discussions.
5. The U.S. Department of Education has compiled informational resources about coronavirus prevention and awareness.
6. Some students may have anxiety learning about the coronavirus or worrying they or their families may become ill. This NPR resource offers a kid-friendly way to explain it.
7. The Florida Virtual School put together a page to let families know how FLVS can support students who may want to enroll with FLVS to continue their learning online in the event of a school closure.
8. PowerSchool is compiling a best practices guide based on districts that have implemented their learning management systems for distance learning during events like repeat snow days. While snow days are not the same as a viral outbreak, many of the practices are applicable. The company is also planning to work with all of its current learning management solution customers to provide access to the integrated remote learning video technology where instructors can engage online with students.
9. The Child Mind Institute urges parents to talk with their children about coronavirus instead of keeping them in the dark. Schools could refer parents to this list of tips, which encourages a reassuring approach focusing on highlighting what parents are doing to stay safe and healthy.
10. Kahoot! is offering free access to all features to support distance learning in schools affected by the coronavirus outbreak. With Premium, teachers can use advanced reports to facilitate formative assessment and adjust instruction based on student performance – even when they cannot attend school. Premium also lets teachers put together a bank of school-wide educational games and collaborate with other teachers in their school.