10 things we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic (so far)


1. City Connects’ system of integrated student support, which is
delivered by skilled coordinators, allows schools and districts to be resilient in the face of crisis — even a global one.

2. The core practices of City Connects — the whole class reviews, individual student reviews, and personalized support — can work virtually.

3. By moving our model online, “We got to know families better,” City Connects Executive Director Mary Walsh says. “When we were in schools it could be hard to schedule meetings with working parents. But online, “we got to see families at home and get more of a sense of their challenges.”

4. Having a record of every child — thanks to our data system — meant that once the pandemic hit, we could quickly reach out to every student. We knew who our most vulnerable families were, so we could re-establish connections with community-based providers like telehealth services and afterschool programs. And we had a system in place to respond to rapidly changing family needs.

5. Our work with our community partners continues in new and innovative ways such as helping afterschool programs find alternative sites to provide full-day child care for students who need a place to go where they can engage in remote learning.

6. “We’ve learned more about what a support we can be to teachers,” Walsh explains. “And we’ve seen, in a way that this country never had before, how important it is to have health services, social services, and enrichment opportunities that come to children at school, particularly in urban and rural settings.” 

7. The needs of students and families have changed dramatically:

• helping families get access to food can mean not just connecting them to school meals and food pantries but also to grocery store deliveries

• families need more support to help students navigate technology, learn remotely, and connect with one another 

• kids who are engaged in remote learning need desks

• because of pandemic-related job loss, families need more help connecting to unemployment insurance, child care, and job search services 

8. We can move our professional development programs online and make them stronger.

9. Even in the darkest moments of a global health crisis, sticking to our systemic model has helped thousands of children and their families.

10. Forming connections with students is still the best part of the job!

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