Every new school year brings myriad challenges for school executives and planning committees. The 2021–2022 school year carries the even greater burden of preparing for remote, hybrid, and in-person learning in the middle of a pandemic.
Proper planning is critical to ease the stress, fear, and uncertainty caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and manage the logistics thereof. Find out how you can plan the upcoming academic school year for your school campus or district and prepare for a flexible but well-managed school year.
Think About Student Needs
Learners’ needs should be the top priority when planning a new school year. School superintendents in most places are planning for multiple scenarios — maintaining flexibility and agility remains crucial.
We cannot predict the course of the pandemic, and so schools must plan for safety protocols for in-person learning and make provisions for remote or hybrid learning.
Parent participation in the planning process is vital. For example, despite the ongoing vaccination drives, some parents may be reluctant to bring their children to school, particularly at-risk learners. These are valid concerns, and school administrations should find ways to accommodate all learners.
Plan for Virtual and Hybrid Learning
According to Pew Research Center (PRC), 31 percent of parents reported that their children got little or no additional instruction beyond the resources their schools provided last year. For remote learning to succeed, school heads must plan for considerately deployed technology solutions to maintain connections and support personalized learning.
It is difficult to predict the number of students who will attend in-person classes because parents are still skeptical of safety measures (even one month can make a huge difference in light of the pandemic).
When planning for remote learning, consider the number of learners who learned remotely during the last school year as a starting point. You may also request parents to express their intentions, but consider that these plans may change.
Similarly, ask them to communicate any concerns or suggestions to ease the transition. Some school districts are hosting virtual and in-person forums to share information from their local health departments and receive parents’ input.
Staggered opening days can allow schools to manage a small number of learners transitioning back to school. During opening days, acclimate the entrants into their new environment and communicate expectations and safety protocols. This may take several days, depending on the number of learners.
Leverage Managed IT Services to Support Learning
The same PRC research showed that parents’ primary concern is their children lagging behind classmates who attend in-person classes. School districts may need additional funds to manage the staffing requirements of a hybrid learning environment to prevent this eventuality.
It should go without saying that planners must think of academic-based technology solutions to support such environments. Managed IT services can be handy to meet the need for flexibility in service provision in the school environment.
In the weeks before opening day, school boards should look into hiring a reputable IT company for schools in South Carolina to increase productivity without incurring unnecessary overheads. Managed services can allow schools to scale up and down virtual learning depending on the number of learners.
The MSP (managed service provider) also handles crucial aspects of IT environments, such as data security, system performance, and network speeds, allowing teachers and administrators to focus on the actual coursework.
Final Thoughts: Always Be Flexible
Remote learning will still be a central aspect of learning, even though most school districts will have in-person, full-time classes for learners. The above tips merely scratch the surface of the levels of preparation needed ahead of the 2021–2022 school year.
School administrators must prioritize teachers’ and learners’ needs and well-being while keeping all other stakeholders in the loop. They should come up with options to support learning under the prevailing difficulties. By planning for various outcomes ahead of opening day, schools can brace themselves to face any challenges that may arise with the new school year.