Centering Education Equity Amid COVID-19
As we continue to navigate the Coronavirus pandemic, our commitment to ensuring that Virginia’s public education system is one that provides equitable educational opportunities to all students is unwavering. Meeting the needs of all Virginia learners, especially those disproportionately impacted by school closures or learning loss, is especially important during this time. Centering equity must be foundational to the development of instructional planning.
Recover, Redesign, Restart 2020 (PDF) is a guiding document for Virginia school divisions developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It addresses all facets of school operations and includes key questions, embedded links to resources, and recommendations for school leaders to assist in developing successful reopening plans.
As schools and divisions plan for return to school following extended closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our commitment to ensuring that Virginia’s public education system is one that provides equitable educational opportunities to all students is unwavering. Meeting the needs of all Virginia learners, especially those disproportionately impacted by school closures or learning loss, is especially important during this time. In planning for the reopening of schools, centering equity must be foundational to the development of a return to school plan.
The Centering Equity (PDF) section provides guidance for division and school leaders to facilitate planning that centers equity:
- Equity Audit (PDF) – provides a decision guide that facilitates centering equity in return to school plans
- Equity Strategies (PDF) – includes recommendations for consideration to ensure stakeholders and their needs are met in the planning process
Please bookmark our COVID-19 & Virginia Public Schools webpage for the most recent guidance issued by VDOE.
Ten Return to School Equity Strategies
Ten Return to School Equity Strategies
1. CENTER EQUITY – Evaluate whether your plan will improve or worsen disparities between student groups and establish measurable equity goals that are informed by your diagnostic data. Consider conducting a Return to School Planning Equity Audit.
2. REFLECT – Establish processes and accountability levers to facilitate equitable implementation of your plan and mitigate unintended disparate impacts and consequences. Monitor the impact of your plan on under-served groups, including students of color, multilingual students (ELs), students experiencing poverty and homelessness.
3. STRENGTHEN RELATIONSHIPS – Ensure family engagement, student support, instructional approaches, assignments and learning opportunities are culturally relevant and culturally responsive. Consider implementing protocols to ensure that strategies and initiatives have been evaluated through a cultural and economic competency lens.
4. OUTREACH – Devote adequate resources to outreach, communication, and family engagement, in multiple languages and through multiple channels to ensure that the most vulnerable families have access to information and understand expectations of students. Identify community partners and stakeholders and empower them with information in support of your communication efforts.
5. PRIORITIZE – Prioritize access to learning loss recovery programs/interventions for students who are disproportionately impacted by learning loss during school closures. Before mandating participation and attendance in these programs, evaluate unintended consequences and disparate impact. (i.e. students in low-income families, students whose families have been impacted by unemployment, those whose parents are essential workers, students with disabilities who have struggled to get services remotely, students whose families have been disconnected from school during the school closure, and English learners).
6. MITIGATE – Identify and mitigate barriers to student participation for reasons outside of the student’s control (i.e., caring for younger children, housing instability, health concerns, transportation, adult support).
7. REFRAME – Examine discipline/student code of conduct policies to mitigate against bias and embed safeguards to evaluate student trauma manifesting through behaviors. This is especially important for marginalized student groups disproportionately impacted by exclusionary discipline policies.
8. SUPPORT STAFF – Provide professional development and instructional resources to school leaders and teachers related to “student engagement” and “cultural responsiveness” to support their delivery of remote and virtual distance learning instruction. Particular emphasis should be placed on facilitating understanding of the impacts of social determinants of health, poverty, unemployment, and cultural values on student learning post COVID closures.
9. CLOSE THE DISTANCE – Access to devices and the internet alone are not sufficient to ensure delivery of high-quality distance learning that is available and engaging to all students. Prepare multiple delivery modes for remote learning, avoid an over reliance on technology to facilitate student engagement in learning, and ensure adequate support for families to be partners in student learning.
10. DOUBLE DOWN – Now is the time to double down on equity investments. Examine the use of federal stimulus (CARES Act) funding to address equity gaps (small class size, technology, access to early learning). Prioritize funding to meet the needs of English Learners, students with disabilities, undocumented students, and students living in poverty.