As governments around the world implement measures to protect their citizens and residents from the Coronavirus, schools remain closed for the foreseeable future. Prolonged periods away from schooling environments is highly detrimental to learning and development, particularly for young children. Many schools will be adopting digital models for the first time, and many teachers will be delivering them with minimal training in technology education. Therefore, the level of effectiveness is unknown.
Decisions regarding staffing, technology, and programming are difficult as it is unclear if schools will be closed for three months or over a year. School leaders should prioritise in the short, medium, and long-term as they navigate their response.
School leaders should ensure two-way communication by talking to parents and listening to their concerns. At the same time, they should focus on supporting families and continued student engagement, rather than academic gains. Doing so will enable schools to be responsive to their needs and continue building a sense of community. They should offer flexible engagement options for parents by providing methods for them to interact with their teachers and school leaders.
Simultaneously, school leaders should continually improve online instruction. Technology is not the only component that will ensure success in this regard, and many teachers will be adjusting to new teaching methods that require significant effort and training. School leaders should arrange regular check-ins and mentoring sessions with teachers, as well as opportunities for staff to virtually share their concerns and best practices among each other.
It is feasible that the ongoing disruption could last for six months or less, and school leaders should be planning for this scenario by planning for remediation. This includes adjusting the school calendar to begin early to minimise learning loss and preparing a plan for course adjustment once school resumes. Moreover, they should consider introducing more afterschool programs to compensate for lost instruction and time away from the classroom.
A lack of data will also be an obstacle for school leaders that will need addressing in this timeframe. This can be done by devising a plan for how teachers and leaders themselves will handle the insufficient student data when they do return. While doing so, they should evaluate how this gap in knowledge will affect students’ grades and their chances of securing placements, as well as the school’s analytical capabilities and accountability metrics and systems.
Should the current circumstances due to Covid-19 exceed six months, school leaders should upgrade digital offerings by thoroughly evaluating online delivery, testing new platforms, and implementing new approaches. While doing so, they should also devise a plan to develop soft skills.
Given the extended time in which students will be using education technology, school leaders should explore how soft skills and emotional competencies, including teamwork, creativity, and character development, could be integrated into online services. School leaders should also explore new ways to deploy staff and consider reassigning them as a result of the hours saved by education technology.
- Prolonged periods away from usual schooling environments is highly detrimental to learning particularly for young children.
- Many schools will be adopting digital models for the first time, and teachers will be delivering them with minimal training.
- The level of effectiveness is unknown.
- Decisions regarding staffing and technology are difficult as it is unclear if schools will be closed for three months or over a year.
- School leaders should prioritise in the short, medium, and long-term as they navigate their response.
Since online education is a first time, schools and teachers should engage with parents, write Dr Leila Hoteit and Maya El Hachem at BCG.