The COVID-19 crisis is changing the country as we know it. With cancellations of well-established events like the Olympics, school districts closing, distance learning becoming the only option for education, and economic turmoil looming, there is no shortage of stress.
Educators, you are in a unique position to support your school communities in this time—when will school resume? What will happen with AP tests? How can we keep up with learning for the next grade level? The answers to these vary across the country as each district—even each school—wrestles with how to best respond to this crisis.
Here are a few recommendations on how you might help your communities (parents and students alike) get through this uncertain time:
Share what you know (but it’s OK not to know). Communicate with parents about what you know regarding the state of your school, but don’t overstep—you don’t have to know everything. If you don’t know when school will resume, explain to them that you too are finding out and will get that information to them as soon as you know.
Review progress reports. Share students’ personalized progress reports based on where they left off with their parents. Knowing this information can help parents understand strengths and weaknesses in their child’s learning so they can continue to support them at home. And hearing you talk about their child’s future learning development may be comforting in a time of uncertainty about the future.
Provide standards-aligned materials that focus on key skills and knowledge. Parents may be tempted to allow students to scour the web, watch videos, and play online games to learn. But as a teacher, you know which educational standards are key to their success. Provide your families with resource packets in print or email-friendly formats (e.g., PDFs) to keep the constructive learning going at home.
Connect with counselors. For older students, the impact of this pandemic on college entry and AP credit is extremely stressful. Speak with your school counselors about the situation so you can support these students and their parents as families think through their options.
Create a weekly newsletter. Reassure and inform your students’ parents by using a routine communication tool like a newsletter. Include samples of what you would be doing if class were meeting, and offer them direct access to curriculum materials, if possible. You can also help summarize the news and offer further reading for students to stay informed on the COVID-19 crisis and what’s happening locally and globally.
Above all, be the voice of reassurance for your students and their parents. They trust you as a source of knowledge and look to you to provide comfort in these tough times. Try your best to keep the communication going, the learning materials available, and the positive vibes flowing. We’ll get through this together.