The Weekly Connect 3/30/20

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

The economic fallout of the coronavirus epidemic could hurt student learning.

A federal coronavirus bill includes $13.5 billion for schools.

In the shadow of coronavirus, schools scramble to help homeless students.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

New Warnings on Screen Time, as Students Nationwide Move to E-Learning
Ed Week Inside School Research: As millions of students nationwide start to settle into virtual learning programs to slow the spread of the coronavirus, a massive new research analysis sounds another note of caution about the effects of exposing children, particularly younger ones, to significantly more screen time. A new meta-analysis recently published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics finds that while high-quality educational screen content is associated with better language skills, more overall time on screens each day, regardless of its quality, is linked to lower language development. See related article: ABC News “American Academy of Pediatrics ‘Recognizes’ Kids Will Use More Screens.” 

The Coronavirus Double Whammy: School Closures, Economic Downturn Could Derail Student Learning
Chalkbeat: The new coronavirus has closed schools for weeks, and in some places for the rest of the academic year. Thousands of parents have already lost their jobs. And many believe a recession is on the way. That’s a cocktail with the potential to have harmful effects on students and exacerbate pre-existing inequalities, research suggests. Studies of student absences, summer learning loss, and lengthy school closures show that losing time in school sets students back academically. Research on the last recession found the resulting drastic cuts in school spending lowered students’ test scores and college attendance rates. And other research has shown that families’ financial stress affects how well students do in school.


Senate Passes Coronavirus Bill With $13.5 Billion for Schools, DeVos gets Waiver Power
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: The Senate has passed a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package that includes $13.5 billion in dedicated funding to shore up K-12 education budgets. The package includes: $8.8 billion for Child Nutrition Programs to help ensure students receive meals when school is not in session; $3.5 billion for Child Care and Development Block Grants, which provide child-care subsidies to low-income families and can be used to augment state and local systems; $750 million for Head Start early-education programs; and $100 million in Project SERV grants to help clean and disinfect schools and provide support for mental health services and distance learning. It also gives U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos new waiver power to grant states and schools flexibility under the main federal K-12 law. See related article: Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog “DeVos Announces Broad Waivers from Federal testing Requirements as Schools Close for Coronavirus.”

 Educators ‘Scrambling’ to Continue Special Ed Services as Nearly all States Close Schools
Education Dive: Guidance released by the U.S. Department of Education urged districts to “pull together to do what’s right for our nation’s students,” according to a press release. And so, “It was extremely disappointing to hear that some school districts were using information from the Department of Education as an excuse not to educate kids,” Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in the statement, adding schools should continue distance learning through building closures “rather than educate no students out of fear.” But how those systems will ensure a free and appropriate public education for students with disabilities, who are among those hit hardest by closures, is still uncertain. See related articles: Pew Stateline “Switch to Remote Learning Could Leave Students with Disabilities Behind” and Ed Week Digital Education Blog “Read This Guide to Meeting Students’ Individual Needs with Remote Teaching.” 

Illinois Adopts Arts as a Weighted Success Indicator in ESSA Accountability
Education Dive: The Illinois State Board of Education voted unanimously to include arts as a weighted indicator of K-12 success in its school accountability metrics under the Every Student Succeeds Act, making it the first in the nation to do so, according to a press release from two organizations, Ingenuity, Inc., and Arts Alliance Illinois. The move puts dance, music, theater, and visual arts alongside math and science as elements of a quality education. Starting in the 2022-23 school year, the arts indicator will equal 5% of every school’s total score and will register student participation in arts courses, quality of instruction, and student voice.

Around the Nation

Reaching ‘Our Most Invisible Population’ During a Pandemic: How Schools are Scrambling to Protect Homeless Students as Coronavirus Disrupts Lives
The 74 Million: School officials have found themselves on the front lines of helping America’s ever-growing population of homeless students, scrambling to provide food, shelter, and a sense of safety. For many school officials who spoke with The 74, homeless students living without parental supervision are the top concern. While all homeless Americans are at heightened risk of contracting the virus and often have weakened immune systems, with many unable to follow social distancing protocols or to self-quarantine, it is homeless youth without parental supervision who are unable to consent to receive medical care in many states, who have limited access to shelters, and who are less likely to seek help, advocates said. See related article: Dhaka Tribune “Unicef: Children at Increased Risk of Abuse, Neglect Over Coronavirus.” 

What Remote Learning Looks Like During the Coronavirus Crisis
Ed Week Full Frame Blog: Education Week staff asked parents, students, and educators to share what their home learning environments look like as nearly all schools are shut down for extended periods because of the coronavirus pandemic. Parents, educators, and children across the country have shared photos of their new workspaces, schedules, and activities. The photos include a middle schooler’s virtual lunch table with her friends so they can eat and talk together from their respective homes, a social-emotional-learning/behavior coach looking at free online games to include as resources for parents and teachers, and a mother trying to replicate her children’s school lesson plans. See related articles: Ed Note “Adjusting to a New ‘Normal’ in Education” and Ed Surge “‘Smiles are Infectious’: What a School Principal in China Learned from Going Remote.”

Helping Kids Who Are Feeling Isolated and Anxious After Schools Shut Down
The Hechinger Report: Crittenton Services of Greater Washington (CSGW), based in Washington, D.C., works with over 600 girls, in grades six through 12, from low-income and at-risk backgrounds. CSGW leaders hold weekly after-school programs providing girls with support to “overcome obstacles, make positive choices, and achieve their goals,” according to the organization. As schools closed, the organization had to pivot its in-person programming and services and go online through calls, group, and one-on-one chats, emails, and video chatting apps to address the girls’ social and emotional needs, including social isolation. See related article: EdSource “Coping with Stress of Coronavirus Crisis a Challenge for California’s Students.” 

‘We’re Not Turning Anyone Away’: How Some Districts are Feeding Students During Coronavirus Outbreak
Education Dive: Adilene Torres usually spends her days overseeing after-school programs in the central and eastern regions of the Los Angeles Unified School District. But now, amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, she’s helping to coordinate meal distribution at Narbonne High School in the Harbor City community — one of 60 “grab-and-go” meal sites operating throughout the nation’s second largest school district. With other “Beyond the Bell” staff members handing bags of food to drivers as they pull up to canopies, Torres is one of roughly 1,200 staff members and volunteers working to make sure students — and often other family members — are still receiving meals while schools are closed. See related article: NPR “Schools Race to Feed Students Amid Coronavirus Closures.”

 As Newark Schools Shift to Remote Learning, ‘Spirit Week’ Goes Digital
Chalkbeat: As Newark enters its second week of shuttered school buildings and home confinement amid the new coronavirus pandemic, schools are trying to adjust swiftly to virtual education. At Franklin, a close-knit elementary school, the shift has forced teachers and families to adopt new online tools while trying to maintain some normalcy and community. To help the transition go more smoothly, the school is hosting a Virtual Learning Spirit Week where students and staffers wear themed outfits on different days and share pictures online and with digital tools like ClassDojo. “It’s to keep us united,” said Maria Espinosa, a fourth-grade teacher at Franklin. “For teachers, students, and parents, whether we’re in the same building or not, we’re still one community.” See related article: Chalkbeat “Detroit Math Teacher’s Bedtime Stories Soothe Students During the School Shutdown.”

Springfield Students Educate Peers on Dating Violence
WTOL11: Springfield High School is one of 14 high schools in Northwest Ohio that have a Teen Peers Educating Peers (PEP) team. They educate high school and junior high students about the dangers of being physically, sexually, and verbally abused by someone they’re dating. Mikayla King, one of Teen PEP’s student leaders, says that the program brings forward issues that need to be talked about more with teenagers. Teen PEP leaders say it’s unfortunately easier to be a victim of teen dating violence, since social media makes it harder to get away from a problem.

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Author: City Connects

City Connects is an innovative school-based system that revitalizes student support in schools. City Connects collaborates with teachers to identify the strengths and needs of every child. We then create a uniquely tailored set of intervention, prevention, and enrichment services located in the community designed to help each student learn and thrive.

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