While higher education institutions rapidly closed campuses and instituted remote learning, most K-12 systems found themselves navigating challenging and uncharted territory with limited information and little time to prepare for closures. It was not until major districts closed and state governors stepped in that schools shut down en masse. Even so, communication to families, access to devices and resources to support remote learning, and school reopening projections varied widely district to district within a state, and even between schools within some districts. With few fully equipped to support remote student learning, many districts were effectively shut down in mid-March as they explored options and developed remote instructional plans and materials.
As of mid-April, most districts are now moving forward with some version of remote delivery, often using commercially available collaboration tools as the foundation. This makeshift remote learning solution should not be confused with best-in-class online courseware, delivery infrastructure and supporting services, but it will likely remain the solution for the rest of the 2019–20 school year — and potentially into the 2020–21 school year.
As the school year closes, states and districts will continue to face myriad challenges over the coming weeks and months. Yet, they must start to plan for how to deliver instruction and drive student learning in a complex and ever-changing situation. Given this unknown, schools, states and districts will be contemplating a variety of scenarios for the next school year and beyond.
What to anticipate?
In these uncertain times, discerning “what is next” for K-12 education requires some speculation. Regardless of when the threat of COVID-19 subsides, states and districts will need to help their students and families regain some level of “normalcy” in the near and long term. Students will have been learning outside of their normal classroom setting for an extended period of months and may face delayed or interrupted schooling in the fall. As we consider the remainder of this school year and start to look toward the 2020–21 school year, here are a number of developments that we anticipate.
Below we highlight several developments that we anticipate for the K-12 sector, as well as sequence some of the actions that districts will need to take over the next six to nine months. While no means comprehensive, this table is intended to identify the most critical activities.