Making indoor air quality a top priority

As schools move toward making masks optional for students and teachers, concerns are turning to the best ways to mitigate COVID-19 infections–and indoor air quality is a major concern.

With students back in physical classrooms, air quality must take priority regardless of a district’s mask policy. But how can district leaders address the varying degrees of improvements schools may need to update their indoor air systems?

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The best ways to monitor your school’s indoor air quality

COVID-19 ushered forth a plethora of new safety guidelines and strategies intended to bring students and teachers back to the classroom as safely as possible. Indoor air quality has topped the list of school leaders’ concerns.

With students back in physical classrooms, air quality must take priority regardless of a district’s mask policy.

Join this eSchool News webinar to learn about:…Read More

How to assess your school’s indoor air quality

COVID-19 ushered forth a plethora of new safety guidelines and strategies intended to bring students and teachers back to the classroom as safely as possible. Indoor air quality has topped the list of school leaders’ concerns.

With students back in physical classrooms, air quality must take priority regardless of a district’s mask policy.

Join this eSchool News webinar to learn about:…Read More

CASEL Releases Recommendations for SEL Investments with American Rescue Plan (ARP) Dollars

CHICAGO, IL – The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 represents a $123 billion infusion in K-12 education, including support for social and emotional learning (SEL). To assist leaders and policymakers in this opportunity, CASEL has released a new policy brief, The Three Highest Priority Investments to Make in SEL with American Rescue Plan Dollars. Originally developed for the Recovery to Reinvention series led by PIE Network and Bellwether Education Partners, the brief includes specific guidance for district leaders, local policymakers, and state policymakers.

Decades of research have demonstrated the effectiveness of SEL for supporting students’ academics, behaviors, mental health, and long-term success. The ARP’s historic levels of K-12 dollars offer a critical opportunity to invest a long-term foundation for evidence-based, systemic implementation of SEL that fully supports students and schools through the pandemic and beyond. Investments in SEL align to the ARP expenditure guidelines, and policymakers can help optimize resources by ensuring investments are evidence-based, sustainable, and responsive to the needs of all students, including those in historically marginalized communities. 

There are three key areas where investments of ARP dollars could most effectively bolster systemic implementation of SEL: …Read More

eBOARDsolutions Announces Major Update to Simbli Policy Module

eBOARDsolutions Inc., today announced a major update to their online policy management software, the Simbli Policy Module.

One of six core modules that make up Simbli’s board management software, the Policy module helps school boards develop, communicate, and collaborate on policies and procedures in real time. Fully integrated with Simbli’s Meetings, Planning, Evaluations, Documents, and Communications Modules, the newly enhanced Policy Module provides governance teams even greater flexibility and control in managing all of the board’s important work.

“Through Simbli’s Policy module, our subscribers can not only access and make vital updates to their board policy manual, but also manage things like student and staff handbooks, school safety manuals, financial or IT procedures manuals, business continuity plans, and other critical manuals all in one place,” said Mark Willis, eBOARDsolutions Chief Operating Officer. “With Simbli, all of their manuals are easily searchable and 100% compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.”…Read More

GoGuardian Finds Three Factors That influence K-12 Student Engagement Online and In-Person

The GoGuardian Research and Insights team today announced its comprehensive findings on the factors that create an engaging learning experience in K-12 schools, both online and in-person, in its 2020 State of Engagement Report.

The report released by GoGuardian, an education technology company supporting thousands of K-12 schools and over eight million students through powerful tools and research, captures field research from the GoGuardian Research and Insights team, with insights from more than 450 students, teachers, administrators and policy leaders across the U.S. Through this eight-month research project, they identified the factors that impact an engaging learning experience and strategies that school boards, administrators and teachers can implement to help improve student engagement. Because the COVID-19 Pandemic has restructured U.S. classrooms to an online or hybrid model, this report also includes a supplemental analysis of existing research and literature on engagement in online learning, to provide context on how the themes discovered in the field research apply to the current distance learning environment.

“Engagement levels in a learning experience are dynamic and context-driven, but our research found remarkable commonalities across many school communities and stakeholder groups. We’ve found a few consistent themes relating to the variables that impact engagement and the indicators that signal students are engaged in what they are learning,” said Mariana Aguilar, director of research at GoGuardian. “The lessons that created the most engaging experiences for students often were a combination of opportunities that encouraged discussion, gave students learning choices and allowed students to create. These elements are immensely transferable both in the online and in-person classroom and can facilitate a positive learning environment, whether in a synchronous or asynchronous setting.”…Read More

Online research program offers first ever covid-19 independent study

Pioneer Academics, the college-accredited online research program for high school students, has launched Pioneer Open Summer Study (POSS), a free program that gives any interested high school student the opportunity to participate in independent studies about COVID-19. An international online program, POSS brings teenagers together from around the world to examine a shared challenge through a scientific lens. The rigorous enrichment program, developed by Pioneer’s Academic Panel, allows students to develop and apply critical thinking and STEM skills in one of four study areas:1) Age of Plague: Medicine, Society and Epidemics, 1348 & Beyond; 2) Pandemics and Globalization: Economics, Culture and Policy; 3) Pandemic Epidemiology: Societal Impacts and Strategic Response; and 4) The Forces Driving Socio-Cultural Evolution.

POSS students will take an interdisciplinary approach to exploring COVID-19 and will benefit from conducting independent studies while building teamwork and leadership skills. The open program allows any student who forms a study group of five to ten people – along with a school advisor or teacher who will monitor progress – to register as a team. Students can access teaching recordings, study materials, independent study guidelines, and have “office hours” with Pioneer Academics’ alumni. Teams already registered are located around the world, including Russia, Turkey, Vietnam, India, and China. There are also cross-country teams with members working together from different countries.

Visit https://pioneeracademics.com/pioneeropenstudy to learn more about POSS.…Read More

3 key parts of a K-12 coding or robotics program

K-12 teachers and administrators have been listening to policy makers and industry leaders warn of the need for computer science instruction, such as a coding or robotics program, in U.S. schools for years. And the evidence they cite is compelling. For instance…

  • Global management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. estimates there will be 50 million new technology jobs created by 2030 as automation transforms the workforce. While artificial intelligence and robotics will change or eliminate many jobs, McKinsey says, these advancements will also create many new high-paying opportunities for computer scientists, engineers, and IT administrators.
  • According to Code.org, there are nearly 500,000 open computing jobs in the United States right now, and yet the nation is not producing enough computer science graduates to fill them. Last year, fewer than 50,000 computer science majors graduated into the workforce.
  • Although 58 percent of all new jobs in STEM-related fields are in computing, only 8 percent of the STEM degrees earned in the United States are in computer science, Code.org says.

Related content: 11 educators share how they bring coding into the classroom

Learning about coding and robotics can give students of all ages an effective on-ramp to computer science exploration. As educators Lynne Schrum and Sandi Sumerfield wrote for ISTE last year: “Robotics and coding provide hands-on and creative opportunities for learners to invent, solve problems, and create — perhaps the most appropriate implementation of STEM.” When taught well, these subjects can be fun and engaging for students.…Read More

5 different ways IT directors handle student data privacy

Student data privacy is a hot-button issue. In the last five years, according to Amelia Vance, director of education privacy & policy counsel at the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF), over 600 bills on the topic have been introduced and 125 new laws have passed in about 40 states. “Unfortunately, the vast majority of those laws came with no resources, funding, or support to implement them. I give a lot of credit to the leading district CIOs and CTOs who have stepped up and fulfilled the promise of the laws,” says Vance, who also runs FERPA|Sherpa, the Education Privacy Resource Center that has loads of resources online.

Vance encourages district leaders to start by training every person in your district who has access to information about the importance of privacy and protecting that information. “Most of the issues that arise are because of human error,” she says. “Email attachments that shouldn’t be sent out get sent; web pages go live that shouldn’t; people forget to lock their computer.” Recently, she heard about a district that posted its school safety plans online before the school board meeting; no one noticed they included the private medical information of students and teachers who would need assistance in a school safety emergency.

In 2019, a lot of general privacy laws may pass that will unintentionally apply to schools. Vance suggests keeping an eye on any privacy bills that come up in your state because they may accidentally cover you and give you additional responsibilities. She says you can keep updated by Googling your state + consumer privacy act. You can also bookmark the FPF and FERPA|Sherpa websites, as they’ll be keeping track of the news.…Read More