How Schools Can Ensure an Equitable Recovery from COVID – California Health Report | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools

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We are now roughly a month into California’s efforts to safely re-open schools and return to full-time, in-person instruction.

While California has one of the lowest COVID-19 transmission rates in the nation and a high vaccination rate, the reopening of schools has proven rocky. We’ve seen confrontations between parents and school board members over mask and vaccine mandates. Many families and school officials remain concerned about COVID transmission, yet also don’t want to see schools close again. Research shows fully remote learning resulted in huge educational losses, with a disproportionate impact on students of color. Educators and policymakers are rightly working to prevent further learning loss through safety measures and public health guidance aimed at keeping school in person.

I wanted to better understand how the reopening effort is playing out on the ground, particularly in districts where socioeconomic and linguistic disadvantages made remote learning especially harmful to students. I spoke with educators from Oakland Unified School District and Los Angeles Unified School District — two public-school districts that primarily serve students of color — to hear their views on what’s going right with school re-openings, and what could be done better. While by no means an exhaustive account of the reopening effort at all California schools, these teachers’ personal insights offer a window into common challenges and opportunities facing our public education system as it attempts a return to normalcy.

A starting point for my conversations was a simple question: How are things going? I posed this to Elizabeth Haugen, a long-time humanities teacher at Oakland Technical High School, along with another teacher from Oakland Unified and one from LA Unified, both of whom asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from their respective districts. All welcomed the return to in-person instruction and said they are now able to better address the individual needs of students, a stark contrast to the prior academic year which was mostly remote.

“I love being back in the building,” Haugen told me. “I love being back with students.”

All the teachers noted that some students suffered more than others during remote learning and agreed these students will need significant support to recover from academic losses. The LA Unified educator, who teaches high school and has many English language learners in his class, said a lot of these students couldn’t log onto Zoom to do remote learning during the pandemic. Often, they did not have high-speed internet or tech-savvy parents who could help them sign on. This led to many students simply not attending online class, he said. Further, students with disabilities and special needs were often unable to get the nuanced and individualized support they had received in person, he said.

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