Below are summaries of the four possible scenarios we laid out. As we write, “none are perfect solutions—each has its own set of challenges and drawbacks and we recognise that each school is approaching this from different contexts, depending on levels of readiness, resources and support up to now.”
1. Brick to Click Learning
The gist: The school will begin the academic year with traditional, in-person classes, but will have planned and prepared for an outbreak that causes the school community to transition swiftly to distance learning.
The details: Over the summer, teachers received training in delivering online learning and are flexible and able to transfer their in-person instruction to an online environment. The likelihood of another outbreak is “relatively high,” so staff will need to move quickly. “For example, if the number of cases jumps quickly mid-week, the district would send home instructional materials within 48 hours and then continue learning online the following week,” the report describes. “This scenario requires all educators, support staff, students, parents, and caregivers to remain nimble in the likelihood that there are quick changes in the way learning is accessed.”
2. Click to Brick Learning
The gist: The school will continue online learning on school opening, monitoring public health benchmarks and communicating with local government and health personnel to determine when it is safe to return to brick-and-mortar classrooms.
The details: Over the summer, teachers received training in delivering online learning. All academic content will be taught online for the duration of the school year. Any potential reopening will prioritise not instruction but advising and relationship building.
Should the school re-open to allow for face-to-face interactions, students can expect to come for half days or every other day, to adhere to existing social distancing guidelines. In this scenario, school staff will need to take special care to account for students’ mental health, technical problems, social-emotional needs and individualised support services. They will also need “to consider online learning the primary method of working towards competency in a grade level and/or content area, while in-person learning is focused on relationship-building and developing non-academic skills.”
3. Blended learning
The gist: The school will offer a hybrid learning environment, in which both face-to-face instruction and online instruction are provided in a consistent, easy-to-follow schedule throughout the year.
The details: Over the summer, teachers received training in delivering blended learning. The school will choose from one of several blended learning models. One possible route would be to offer in-person instruction one day a week and online learning the rest. Younger students, who need more assistance and supervision, may need to attend in-person classes more frequently than older students. This scenario, while asking the community to use both online and in-person learning simultaneously, would make a school well-positioned to respond to a COVID-19 outbreak, as it could quickly move to full-time online learning.
4. Online learning
The gist: The school will provide all instruction, programming and support services remotely so as to best protect the health and safety of students and staff.
The details: Over the summer, teachers spent at least 80 additional hours of professional development to prepare adequately for an entire year of online teaching. Technological infrastructure should be scaled and secured, as necessary, and communication technologies should be used to their full advantage “to pay close attention to the development of each child and ensure that appropriate grade-level growth is happening while learning takes place at a distance.” This scenario is most appropriate—or perhaps only appropriate—for middle and high school students, since younger students would need an adult at home, which can create complications for working parents.