LFA Members Share Resources on COVID-19, Discuss Reopening Schools

By Joetta Sack-Min

As states and school districts begin to discuss plans for reopening schools, LFA is compiling pertinent information on COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and its impact on their students, staff and families for educators and parents.

Originally published March 2, 2020. Updated as needed.

School districts across the country are using online learning as they grapple with a sudden and uncharted course to respond to COVID-19 (novel Coronavirus). Currently, nearly all of U.S. schools are closed, but are making plans on when and how to reopen school, which will undoubtedly look different. Below are resources from the members of the Learning First Alliance, which represent 10 million parents, teachers, administrators, school board members and other educators. This list will be updated regularly as new information and resources become available.

Reopening Schools:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidance for schools on June 30. However, some worry that the information has been politicized.

NEW: Johns Hopkins University has built a tracker that shows the status of each states' reopening plans as well as guidance from national organizations.
 
The National Education Association issued a major report with reopening guidance, All Hands on Deck. It focuses on racial justice and is grounded in four principles:
  • Health Expertise to determine 'when' schools and campuses should resume in-person learning;
  • Educator Voice is imperative;
  • Access to Protection for educators and students;
  • Lead with Equity to ensure we move toward the schools our students deserve.

LFA Executive Director Richard M. Long has written a commentary on the Seven Stages of Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, with considerations on re-opening schools. Dr. Long appeared on Education Talk Radio on May 27 to discuss the paper. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics has guidance on reopening which "“strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”

The National Labor Management Partnership, which includes many LFA members and state-level groups, issued a report, Collaborating in a Crisis: Working Together to Safely Reopen Our School Buildings.

The Learning Policy Institute has a new report on school reopenings in European and Asian countries and strategies that may prove helpful to U.S. school districts.

Meeting cancellations: In light of new travel guidelines and restrictions, several LFA organizations are canceling, going virtual or offering refunds for upcoming conferences and events. Links to LFA members' upcoming annual conferences are available on LFA's conference page

The USDA is offering federal school meal waivers to districts closed because of COVID-19. For more information on the waivers and food services during school closures, view these webinars and resources provided by AASA and the Association of School Business Officials, Intl.

AASA, the School Superintendents Association, has been tapped by CDC to be a lead in communicating to schools the extent of the virus, strategies districts could take and much more. AASA “recognizes that many of our members have concerns about the ongoing/encroaching spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and its potential impact on schools… We have shared your concerns on the Coronavirus with CDC, have already dialogued with officials from their School Health Branch,  and stand ready to provide educators with the most up-to-date information and recommendations.”

AASA and the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO), have built this chart that estimates the additional costs associated with reopening schools this fall, from cleaning products and PPE to transportation, with the average 3,600-student district incurring additional costs of at least $1.7 million. 

AASA and the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE) are offering free 20-minute webinars to give advice and strategies on the most critical issues. Details and registration may be accessed here: https://aasa.org/AASA-LeadershipNetwork-webinars.aspx

AASA also has co-produced an FAQ with guidance on reporting COVID-19 cases and student privacy issues in communities.

AASA’s resources are available at https://www.aasa.org/home/.

The American Federation of Teachers' Share My Lesson has built a new online community for educators, school support staff, and parents to share ideas, lesson plans, and resources. This will include remote learning resources to address the needs of children who may have to stay home from school for prolonged periods of time. As educating students with disabilities from home is one of the many quandaries faced by educators and parents during this crisis, AFT's Share My Lesson has a new section on special education and supporting students with disabilities and their families. AFT also has called for greater funding to help special education students catch up after missing weeks of specialized services that cannot be delivered virtually.

A number of additional resources are available at www.aft.org/coronavirus and by putting “coronavirus” in the search function on sharemylesson.com. The latter is focused on classroom resources.

The American School Counselor Association has a new guide about mental health and social emotional learning issues that school leaders and counselors may encounter upon reentry. ASCA also is helping the CDC develop appropriate and effective messages on how to talk to children about coronavirus. Resources are available here

CoSN, the Consortium for School Networking, notes that "It is essential to consider cybersecurity and privacy before implementing technology-driven alternatives to classroom learning." They offer this document to help schools ensure student data and privacy are protected. CoSN also has resources on ed tech guidance for schools to help prepare for e-learning and ensure positive learning impact.

Learning Forward has a webpage which includes their official statement, public CoVID19 support group, access to webinars, blog posts, and specific resources.

The National Education Association has a fact sheet and resources for teachers and school staff. They've also opened an EdCommunities group for members to exchange ideas and questions about how to deal with the implications of the coronavirus on students, schools, parents, and communities.

A new NEA survey found that more than 80% of NEA members say that “providing the same level of education to all students” is a serious problem. Educators in high-poverty schools report lower class attendance, feel distance learning will be less effective for their students, and believe that closing the digital divide should be a top priority.

NEA has posted resources for students and workers with DACA status to understand their rights and the impact of COVID-19.

NEA and AFT's presidents also co-wrote an editorial for CNN with Jill Biden, a college professor, wife of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and former Second Lady of the United States, on helping parents educate their children at home.

Bilingual resources on Coronavirus are available at Colorín Colorado, a website supported by AFT and NEA that serves educators and families of English language learners (ELLs). 

The National Association for Elementary School Principals has a page of resources specifically for school principals. Danny Carlson, NAESP's Director of Policy & Advocacy, compiled a spreadsheet comparing the details of the House and Senate bills. 

The National Association for Secondary School Principals offers a page of resources from the CDC that serve as guidance for school administers to prepare for and respond to COVID 19. NASSP also has launched "Leading Through Crisis", a six-part virtual town hall series (March26 session is archived on NASSP's Facebook) with 30-minute webinar sessions on:

  • Supporting Students and Families (March 31)How can you see to the well-being of your students and their families while school is closed?
  • Communicating in Crisis (April 2)—How can you maintain and strengthen your relationship to your community and keep their spirits up during uncertain times?
  • Leading Remote Learning (April 7)—With a sudden shift to remote learning, how can a principal still provide instructional leadership?
  • Sustaining School Life (April 9)—How do you sustain a culture and provide students closure, especially in the face of uncertainty and the cancellation of capstone events like prom and graduation?
  • Planning for Transition (April 14)—How can you prepare now to limit the effects of an unusual school year ending and prepare for the start of a new school year?

NASSP also posted a May 6 School of Thought blog by elementary school principal Jay Billy on how school leaders and other educators can use this crisis to "change schools forever" and find ways to engage and empower our students. 

The National PTA has a new Q&A resource with extensive links to advise parents and local PTA leaders on how to speak to their children and how to find information on school closures and other issues. PTA President Leslie Boggs also released a statement on March 19 on COVID-19: “National PTA is calling on the administration to provide clear guidance to states so that local education and health departments can respond effectively to the many questions and concerns of our nation’s families and schools."

For parents, PTA has produced a special COVID-19 Notes from the Backpack podcast with Dr. Earl Turner, a child psychologist, on how to explain Coronavirus to kids and its impact on their mental health. 

The National School Boards Association published a webpage with information that can help school board members prepare for the coronavirus, including an NSBA guide that can help school districts with their preparedness efforts. COVID-19: Preparing For Widespread Illness in Your School Community: A Legal Guide for School Leaders—features prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery actions. The National Association of School Nurses provided support and collaboration.

 The webpage is available at: www.nsba.org/resources/coronavirusThe National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) hosted a webinar on March 18 about communicating with your parents and students about COVID-19, school closures, and other measures. NSPRA has a guidebook on school communications on COVID-19  which is a compilation of helpful tips, resources and news items to assist members in communicating about Coronavirus-related preparation steps and emergencies. 

LFA Executive Director Richard M. Long, who holds a doctorate in counseling and has worked as a family counselor, offers advice for dealing with anxiety and uncertainly caused by the Coronavirus pandemic in this Share My Lesson blog.

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collage of Fairfax County teachers
photo courtesy of Fairfax County (Va.) public schools.