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10 key questions for school leaders navigating the ‘new normal’

As school leaders prepare their re-entry plans for the new school year in the wake of protests and amid the uncertainty and chaos of a global pandemic, there’s no shortage of questions. 

How do we effectively teach students and maintain social distancing? 

What will transportation and class schedules look like? 

How do we optimize remote and blended learning programs for the long haul? 

How do we serve EVERY student equitably?

On Thursday, June 4 K12 Insight hosted the second in a series of national conversations on back-to-school planning, featuring three of America’s leading superintendents:

  • Alberto Carvalho, superintendent, Miami-Dade County Public Schools (FL) 
  • Denise Juneau, superintendent, Seattle Public Schools (WA)
  • Kent Scribner, superintendent, Fort Worth Independent School District (TX)

More than 1,000 educators signed up to participate in the candid conversation. As part of the program, we asked the audience to submit their questions in advance. We received more than 200 questions. Obviously, we couldn’t get to them all in the hour we had together. 

But that doesn’t mean those questions aren’t important. 

To provide a framework for how to think about your back-to-school plan, below we’ve provided ten of the most important questions we heard but couldn’t get to in our June 4 conversation. We hope you find these helpful as you continue to plan and strategize for the coming school year, whatever that looks like where you are.

  1. How do we prioritize the social-emotional needs we know students are going to have when they return?
  2. How do we navigate conflicting guidance from local, state, and federal authorities and provide the appropriate format for safe instruction in the face of mounting pressure to “just get back to normal?”
  3. How do we address the trauma that may be prevalent in both staff and students because of this closure?
  4. How can we convince our staff and families that we are safe from COVID-19 in the building each day?
  5. How can educational leaders verify that a high-quality education is offered effectively to students learning online? What are some good practices to monitor this situation?
  6. How can we best learn from this experience and not go back to old systems, simply because they are familiar or comfortable?
  7. What is the toughest challenge we face in reopening our district, and what are we doing to prepare for it?
  8. How do we ensure trust in students and parents given their many concerns around COVID-19? How do we ensure they do not choose homeschooling or private alternatives?  
  9. How do we support families’ child care needs if blended or online learning is required and not a choice of families?
  10. What role do you see community partners playing in your back-to-school plan next year?

Watch the full recordings of our last two national panels here:

May National Conversation: Watch now

June National Conversation: (Coming Soon)

If you want more ideas about how to effectively communicate and build trust with your school community in this new normal, don’t forget to check out our National COVID-19 Response Center program. It’s free for schools right now. You can watch a three-minute video about that at www.K12Insight.com.

About the Author

Todd Kominiak
Todd is Managing Editor of TrustED. Email: tkominiak@k12insight.com.

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