CCSSO Details Additional Forthcoming Restart & Recovery Resources

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As state chiefs across the country work to conduct summer learning programming and planning for the fall, we hear a common refrain: While school may look different, our focus remains the same: Every student receives a high-quality education.

The Council of Chief State School Officers has supported states as they closed school buildings and transitioned to remote learning, and we are now assisting them as they navigate the path to reopening, as spelled out in our Restart & Recovery Framework. Reopening requires careful planning and attention first and foremost to the safety of students, teachers and staff. States are also considering the well-being and social-emotional needs of students and staff, keeping learning coherent and ensuring students are progressing academically, meeting the needs of all students across racial and socioeconomical contexts, aligning teaching to new and evolving roles and responsibilities, and designing for ongoing flexibility. 

COVID-19 has simultaneously brought into focus and exacerbated existing inequalities in the public school system, which require immediate and focused action. In the coming weeks and months, CCSSO will develop additional resources and guidance for states to use and share with their districts and schools. The descriptions below are intended to offer additional detail on what’s forthcoming. Please direct any questions to

1.) Conditions for Learning & Continuity of Learning

Any planning for the upcoming school year must include a keen consideration of the whole student and how schools can best support their academic achievement and overall well-being. Research on the science of learning suggests that well-being and connection are prerequisites to effective teaching and learning. Schools should build conditions for learning that promote reliable, responsive relationships; offer inclusive, safe school climates; and provide for rich, rigorous instructional supports. Diagnosing and addressing unfinished learning is a top priority as students recuperate from the impacts of prolonged school closures. Further, students have been away from the many supports they typically would receive in school during an especially traumatic period, and it will be necessary that school culture promotes students’ and teachers’ healing and safety. CCSSO will provide guidance on these fronts by:

  • Providing planning considerations and examples to restart schools, including options for new configurations of blended learning or staged reopening, through the forthcoming Considerations for Teaching and Learning.
  • Providing guidance to measure learning loss and the use of diagnostic assessments, which will be covered in Considerations for Teaching and Learning. CCSSO’s forthcoming Assessment Considerations for Fall 2020 will also help state and district leaders think through assessment strategies to understand where students are academically when they return to school and how best to support their learning.
  • Assisting states on strategies to mitigate and recover learning loss through summer planning. Schools looking to jump-start these recovery efforts this summer can access the Restart and Recovery Plan: 2020 Virtual Summer School State Guidance for District and School Leaders, which provides state support for guiding local education agencies planning summer school opportunities.
  • Ensuring learning supports for traditionally underserved students such as students living in poverty, students of color, students with disabilities, students experiencing homelessness, and English Language Learners.  Already available is CCSSO guidance for Serving English Language Learners During COVID-19 and Serving Students with Disabilities During COVID-19. Forthcoming are these additional resources:
    • To inform school leaders on how to support students who are marginalized by homelessness or housing instability, as well as other factors such as race, gender identity, or documentation status, CCSSO will produce an environmental scan, synthesis, and  equitable results toolkit. These resources will address how to incorporate equitable results planning and best practices for supporting marginalized students, as schools continue remote learning and plan to reopen school buildings and recover student learning loss.
      • Through partnership and collaboration with Connected Nation, CCSSO will create a guidance document for SEA leaders and build upon the current framework that will increase digital inclusion across vulnerable populations. Examining the intersections relevant to serving vulnerable populations in a digital age, the framework will identify and develop learning and instructional platforms adaptable to vulnerable populations and their communities.
      • A guidance document for distance learning and school reopening grounded in principles of effective English learner instruction for states to reference and leverage in their own state contexts. States can use the document to develop their own guidance for English learners and support their district and school leaders. The evidenced-based guidance document will include areas such as instruction, assessment, teacher support, district/school leadership, and home/community engagement. 
  • Sharing strategies for high-quality instructional materials for all students, to be covered in Considerations for Teaching and Learning
  • Strengthening professional learning for educators to effectively teach in remote, hybrid, or in-person settings will be covered in Considerations for Teaching and Learning.
  • Comprehensively and sustainably solving the digital learning gap. CCSSO will assist state education agency leaders to address their digital learning gaps by identifying the critical challenges associated with their digital learning gaps, planning for distance learning, developing strategies on how best to distribute available digital learning funding, and partnering with internet service and device providers to develop and implement solutions.
  • Ensuring continuation of wraparound supports, including school meals and access to counseling. CCSSO has continued advocacy for greater flexibility in federal child nutrition programs to allow for different food distribution methods that keep students, staff, and families safe. CCSSO hosted two webinars on providing meals during this pandemic and how to transition to summer meal programs and the next school year. We shared Supporting Continuity of Health Services During COVID-19, which provides an overview of guidance to ensure continuity of school-provided health services amid the COVID-19 crisis. The document was compiled for CCSSO by Child Trends.
  • Sharing guidance on student and staff well-being and connections and integrating support for social-emotional learning and mental health supports into restart and recovery plans. CCSSO is aiding states in the following ways:
    • By compiling resources and state examples in Supporting SEL and Mental Health During COVID-19 to inform the efforts of SEAs in preparing LEAs, district and school leaders, educators, and families to meet the social-emotional and health needs of students.
    • By working with CASEL and several other organizations to create the forthcoming guidance for integrating support for social-emotional learning into restart and recovery plans for school leaders and educators.
    • By creating the forthcoming Teaching and Learning Considerations which will offer guidance to specifically support 1) staff well-being, connection and capacity; 2) student well-being and connection; and 3) tailored student supports to ensure districts and schools can identify the range of health and well-being needs of our students, and connect them to effective, culturally relevant supports.
  • CCSSO’s Restart & Recovery: Addressing Building Safety, Cleaning and Monitoring shares health and safety protocols for reopening schools, including cleaning, parameters for social distancing, screening, monitoring, and deploying nurses. This resource incorporates guidance from health agencies as well as provides examples on emerging practices from across the country and internationally. We will continue to update this resource as new information becomes available.
  • Providing guidance on engaging families in relation to new supports, particularly distance learning and re-opening protocols.

2.) Leadership and Planning

As states begin planning on how to address the needs and challenges COVID-19 has created for districts, there are key considerations leaders should focus on. To aid state and local leaders in planning for the complex and urgent challenges ahead, CCSSO will:

  • Guide leaders in Considerations for Teaching and Learning through these chronological phases:
    • Planning (to happen over the spring and summer)
    • Launching (the work to get schools and staff ready for back-to-school)
    • Sustaining (the work to monitor progress and adjust practices as needed to ensure success throughout the school year).
  • Continue to build coherence in response across SEAs through our 17 collaborative and support networks and continue engaging with chiefs and senior leaders through one-on-one small group consultancies.
  • Develop tools and resources specifically geared to support implementation and facilitate problem solving as state leaders begin to execute on new priorities. Additionally, CCSSO’s Leadership Academy is developing a curated set of leadership resources to help chiefs navigate and make sense of leading through crisis.
  • CCSSO’s Restart and Recovery Toolkit provides state chiefs with the tools and framework needed to assess the status of their teams in responding to emerging school needs, plan short- and long-term steps to address those needs, and build an in-depth understanding of key topic areas likely to come up during the reopening process.  
  • Provide guidance on contingency planning in the case of virus reemergence. CCSSO’s Addressing Building Safety, Cleaning & Monitoring Resource provides decision-making tools to help leaders determine the appropriate steps to take in instances of virus resurgence, and maps out events that could trigger virus-related school closures in the future. 
  • Support robust communications and stakeholder engagement on COVID-19 response. CCSSO created a communications toolkit for SEAs on restarting schools and recovering learning loss for Summer 2020 and Fall 2020-2021, including suggested strategies and tactics to expand the SEA’s outreach and engagement efforts, tips on effective communications with parents, key questions, a sample survey of parents, and templates to adapt. A similar toolkit was developed for SEAs to share with districts.

3.) Policy and Funding

The challenges ahead will require states to smartly access and use federal funding and effectively advocate for policies that are aligned with student success. CCSSO will focus on:  

  • Providing forthcoming guidance and supports to states on the most effective and impactful use of federal funding and flexibility:
    • Rethinking Title I of ESEA in light of COVID-19 (e.g., focus on literacy, technology, curriculum coherence, student well-being, etc.)
    • Rethinking IDEA in light of COVID-19, (including debunking commonly held incorrect beliefs about IDEA spending)
    • A summary document about rethinking federal funds in general, which would include checklists/self-assessment questions, and could include bulleted lists of allowable uses of funds that SEAs could use to build their own activity-based guidance for specific activities
  • Committing to continued advocacy at the federal level, particularly around additional federal resources to address the social and economic impacts of COVID-19.
  • Sharing strategies to mitigate the impact of projected budget shortfalls in states. CCSSO is providing ongoing support to chiefs.
  • Creating guidance on assessment and accountability measures, and federal spending under ESSA for the next school year. Forthcoming resources will include technical considerations about accountability systems, school identification, measuring growth, and assessments for Spring 2021.
  • Determining the best strategies to close the digital divide and provide equitable access to devices and internet.

These resources and all future re-opening guidance will continue to be informed by on-the-ground state and school system leaders, educators, and experts.

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