The Oklahoma State Department of Education is preparing teachers for a demanding yet uncertain 2020-2021.
During the agency’s annual summer conference, Executive Director of School Design and Innovation Aaron Espolt shared results of a national survey showing only about one in three parents is at all likely to expect less from their students this year after last school year was upended by the coronavirus pandemic, and nearly three in four are confident their kids will be prepared for college, an increase from last year.
"When students come back to us, whether that’s via distance learning or that’s back in traditional depending on what happens with those students, the academic expectations of those children are still going to be the same," Espolt said.
Making teachers’ jobs even tougher, many education experts anticipate a COVID slide leading to greater than typical summer learning loss. Some students could be as many as eight months behind where they’d usually be coming back to school.
While some districts are offering all-virtual or mixed instruction models, all schools are expected to be ready to transition to distance learning plans if the pandemic warrants school closures. Espolt said it’s going to take a lot of effort to ensure the gap between students with internet access and those without it does not turn into overall education disparities.
Espolt said teachers will have to come up with ideas to supplement paper packets some students will use to learn, even if that’s help over the phone.
"I hate to say this, and I don’t want to come across in any way — this is our new normal for the ongoing future right now. We’re going to be in this situation. I wish I could close my eyes and wake up tomorrow and say, ‘It’s going to be better,’" Espolt said.
Only one in four families used resources outside of what schools provided after schools closed last year.