Most important educational issues of the pandemic
The responses reflect the needs brought about by changes in instructional delivery model and stressors as a result of the pandemic, such as:
- QUALITY OF DISTANCE EDUCATION,
- MAKING DISTANCE LEARNING ACCESSIBLE FOR CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES,
- SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL HEALTH OF YOUTH, and
- SAFETY OF CHILDREN AT SCHOOL.
Those who were less pleased with how the school year is going and the district’s pandemic response expressed that their needs in these areas are not being met.
Perspectives, perceptions, and lessons learned
Communication and Collaboration
- Frequent communication is key to a smooth transition and effective instruction. Given the frequency of the positive responses and importance placed on communication among stakeholders during the pandemic, this is an area of preK-12 education in Nevada that should continue after the pandemic is over.
“I believe that all teachers are working hard connecting with all students in distance learning and at school but I believe that there needs to be more communication between teachers, students and parents in regards to zoom meetings and expected assignments in the secondary schools.”
parent or family member
Access to Internet and Technology Resources
- Increase access to technology and internet services to support educational work in a variety of instructional delivery models. Respondents who live in areas where Chromebooks or other internet-connected devices were provide for youth were pleased with the availability of these tools, especially when the tools were used consistently across grade levels and subject areas.
- A digital divide still exists, and more efforts to make high-quality internet available, affordable and accessible to all are necessary.
- Increase teacher training, technology support and technology grant funds to provide smoother tech-based education.
“Digital literacy is improving for all; parents are starting to see what their kids can/cannot do; some students are thriving in this model because there are less in-class distractions.” classroom teacher
- Need clear and consistent expectations.
- Respondents were happiest when there was a consistent routine that families could rely on each day or week.
- Have a clear plan at the school or district-level to increase consistency among teachers, thereby creating a more consistent routine for families and youth.
“Not having a concrete plan and always trying to figure out what the plan is becomes very frustrating.” classroom teacher
Care and Safety
- Important positive changes occurred as a result of the pandemic.
- Increased availability of meals for families was especially beneficial.
- Efforts of school personnel to keep youth and employees safe with additional sanitizing, distancing and options for remote work were appreciated.
Flexibility and Learning
- Concerns were expressed about decreased social and academic outcomes as a result of distance learning.
- Although there was no consensus on how best to deliver instruction, respondents frequently expressed concern that the remote or digital modalities are especially challenging for youth with special educational needs. One important lesson from the pandemic is the need for continued and increased attention on how to deliver educational services for youth with special needs.
- Short, well-structured screen sessions with ample time for youth to complete work with individual or small-group support from teachers worked well, along with knowing the workload expectations and having increased flexibility to complete that work.
- The ability for families to choose the instructional delivery model that worked best for them accommodated a variety of needs.
- Fewer youth in the classroom (virtually or physically) decreases disruptions and has particular benefits for youth learning.
“For General Education students who have supportive families, this may be fine, but in no way are we meeting the needs of those with significant disabilities.” classroom teacher
Results and emerging priorities
- There was not a preferred instructional delivery model. Instead, the preferred model differed by family situation and individual differences of the child, along with preparation of the teacher. There was a strong desire for consistency in the type of instructional delivery model across the school district. It may be important to reassess delivery of educational services, particularly during times of change and uncertainty, for youth who have disabilities.
- Social and emotional support for the youth, families and teachers was consistently identified as important and highly affected during the pandemic. Taking measures to address the additional workload of school personnel during times of change, and providing community resources for school personnel, families and youth offer promise.
- Efforts to implement best practices and lessons learned to improve parent engagement, communication, access to internet and technology resources, consistency and predictable schedules, care and safety of youth and school personnel, and flexibility to meet individual youth and family needs offers the best direction for improving current and post-pandemic education.