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Coronavirus and School: What Do The Different Models Mean?

Coronavirus and School: What Do The Different Models Mean?

Schooling students has never been trickier

 

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Since the global outbreak of the coronavirus, students have struggled to overcome tough transitions. Milestone events — like graduation and prom — were canceled or held virtually. Interactions with fellow students, teachers and staff became limited to words exchanged over a computer screen. And staying on top of lessons and assignments meant logging on for a few hours each day for video calls.

Some teachers have gone above and beyond to encourage their students’ love for learning, but certain necessities — like social and emotional support — are more easily available in the classroom. According to data compiled by the Center on Reinventing Public Education, students say they have experienced little meaningful online instruction, are not happy with online classes, are concerned about long-term impacts and have experienced high anxiety and depression. Furthermore, socioeconomic disparities, race and class are factors that impact how students learn and the remote opportunities available to them. 

Schools across the nation are changing the way they function to best accommodate students’ needs and keep everyone healthy. Parents have had to navigate how to provide their children with a solid education. Here are a few of the different coronavirus school setups being used.

Homeschool model: Pandemic pods

Homeschool model: Pandemic pods

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Pandemic pods are small groups of children — three to 10 — gathered in one home that are instructed by parents or a hired teacher. Pandemic pods give children the chance to socialize with a small group of friends — boosting social skills and recreating the classroom setting — while also remaining safe in a trusted, tight-knit circle. Parents have even taken to Facebook to create “Pandemic Pod” groups and match their child with other learners in the same grade. Pandemic pods have also sparked conversations about systematic issues, like education gaps that plague lower-class and minority communities.

Homeschool model: Zutors

Homeschool model: Zutors

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Zutors, or Zoom tutors, are exactly as they sound: parents or guardians hiring tutors to individually teach their children over Zoom calls. The student and tutor remain socially distanced, but the teacher caters to the child’s individual needs and assists with lessons.

Homeschool model: Virtual learning

Homeschool model: Virtual learning

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After consulting parents, teachers, staff and students and analyzing potential health risks, some school districts have made the decision to begin the school year remotely. In this model, students engage in virtual-only classes and activities. In Chicago, students will receive computers and free access to high-speed internet as they adjust to a virtual-only school year.

Homeschool model: Homeschooling

Homeschool model: Homeschooling

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Some parents, afraid of virus exposure and the potential ineffectiveness of remote learning, have chosen to homeschool their children. According to the National Home Education Research Institute, an estimated 2.5 million students were homeschooled in spring 2019. According to Dr. Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute, that number is expected to increase by at least 10% this year. Free kid learning apps are one homeschool education method. 

Blended learning: Hybrid learning

Blended learning: Daily hybrid learning

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A hybrid learning design combines face-to-face instruction with online teaching. For a select number of days of the week, students attend school in socially distanced classrooms, and, for the remainder, the student engages in virtual lessons and completes online assignments. So how could this look? Here’s an example. As of August 2020, schools in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, eliminated in-class lessons on Mondays and divided students alphabetically to determine who attends class in person or online Tuesday through Friday. While one group of students is participating in in-person learning Tuesday and Wednesday, another group would be learning virtually. The style of learning — in person or remote — would alternate on Thursday and Friday

Blended learning: A/B Weeks

Blended learning: A/B Weeks

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In the A/B model, groups of students alternate between remote and in-person instruction every other week. In an example offered by the California Department of Education, half of the student population attends in-person classes four full days a week while the other half engages in virtual learning. Each week, students alternate. 

Blended learning: Looping structure

Blended learning: Looping structure

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The California Department of Education released a guidebook that suggests school districts consider a looping structure. Serving students in grades K-8, the looping structure assigns the same teacher for cohorts that will then travel with them through multiple grade levels. Students can form a stronger relationship with their teachers and receive targeted, efficient instruction while decreasing the risk of exposure.

In-person learning: K-3 in person

In-person learning: K-3 in person

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Kindergartners will be starting school for the first time during a global pandemic. To best help young learners adjust to days spent learning and playing, the K-3 learning model prioritizes in-person learning for kindergarten through third-grade students who might struggle with remote instruction. Students stay in place while teachers alternate between the classrooms.

In-person learning: High-need student learning

In-person learning: High-need student learning

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Remote learning is a difficult adjustment for students in all grade levels, but for students with disabilities, navigating virtual learning has the potential to be especially challenging. In this system, schools prioritize high-need students with in-person instruction while other students remain remote.

In-person learning: High school reopenings

In-person learning: High school reopenings

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Given that high school students are expected to be conscientious young adults able to keep a mask on at all times and properly social distance, high school reopenings will welcome ninth- to 12th-grade students back to the classroom and keep younger grades at home for remote learning. In Germany, for example, older students were assigned their own fixed desks, spaced 6 feet apart. School days are shortened, no more than 10 students are allowed in a room at a time and students are tested every four days.

In-person learning: Teacher rotations

In-person learning: Teacher rotations

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Recommended for secondary school students by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the teacher rotation model would keep small cohorts of students in their classroom while teachers rotate by subject. Teachers should remain 6 feet from students at all times unless it disrupts the flow of learning.

In-person learning: Cohorts

In-person learning: Cohorts

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While normally students would alternate between classrooms, teachers, or both, the cohorts model limits interaction between teachers and students. The cohorts model divides students into groups of 13 to 14.  Throughout the school day, students and teachers remain in their group for in-person instruction and are allowed little to no interaction with other cohorts. Cohort classes have been recommended for pre-kindergarten students by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In-person learning: Staggered schedules

In-person learning: Staggered schedules

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Similar to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for offices that are reopening, staggered start times, breaks and dismissal times will be implemented to increase social distancing efforts at schools as well. All students will have in-class learning, but start times will vary from morning to afternoon shifts.

In-person learning: Outdoor learning

In-person learning: Outdoor learning

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Students can witness beautiful fall foliage and learn multiplication with the outdoor learning model. According to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), moving classes to temporary outdoor spaces is one way schools can reopen while keeping students at a lower risk of exposure.

In-person learning: Full in-person

In-person learning: Full in-person

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