These guidelines for post-pandemic education can help school leaders maximize existing technology while also planning for the future.

A 5-point plan for post-pandemic education

These guidelines can help school leaders maximize the use of existing technology in this funding cycle while also planning for the future

It seems hard to believe, but the pandemic in the U.S. started three years ago. With all the changes COVID-19 brought to schools, perhaps the one that most people forget is how the virus altered the delivery of education.

While everyone is happy remote learning and hybrid models are pretty much over, it isn’t accurate to say education has returned to what was “normal,” pre-pandemic instruction.

The main reason school looks different is that districts bought a heap of specialized technology just to keep instruction alive during those three years. A 2022 survey by the Consortium for School Networking shows that more than 80 percent of U.S. schools now have a device for each K-12 student. That’s way up from pre-pandemic numbers, where about two of three high schools and middle schools were one-to-one and less than half of elementary schools had a device for each student. And that’s only counting student devices–not the needed network improvements, teacher training, or the other myriad purchases required to create a robust network both in schools and at students’ homes.

While this outlay for technology resets the bar of what is expected for schools, now and going forward, it also brings up some powerful questions. Can schools afford to use all the new technology they have? More importantly, however, can they afford to maintain all this equipment in the long term? 

A recent McKinsey survey reports that districts still have $130 billion in unspent ESSER funds to allocate in the next three budget cycles. Slightly more than half of the 260 district officials surveyed said “they were struggling to assemble the internal strategic-planning and operational capacity to make and execute spending decisions in the face of competing priorities and ongoing disruptions.” These same officials expect IT services costs to rise between 6 percent and 8 percent over the next three years. 

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