Special Report

How We Go Back to School

An eight-part series from Education Week
June 11, 2020
Special Report v39 HWGBTS cover
—Stephanie Shafer for Education Week
District and school leaders are confronting difficult, high-stakes decisions as they plan for how they will reopen schools this fall as the global pandemic rages on. Safety for students and staff members is the chief priority. But with no vaccine or effective treatment yet against COVID-19, no one can be fully shielded from the risk.

That leaves K-12 leaders to balance three critical—often competing—responsibilities: the health and safety of their people, the role their schools play in the larger community, and the effective teaching of their students.

Many of the options for reopening schools will upend some of the most effective aspects of teaching and learning. The close, in-person collaboration of students on classroom projects, for example, will have to cease for now. And classes like art, music, and physical education—a critical part of keeping students engaged in school—will need to be severely restricted.

There are no playbooks for how to do this. Following public health protocols will cost a lot of money, even as school budgets are pummeled by the economic collapse. Managing the anxieties of teachers, students, and parents will require patience, compassion, and careful communication.

To help district and school leaders navigate these monumental decisions, Education Week lays out the big challenges ahead and some solutions in an eight-part series of reported stories, diagrams, and data visualizations.

Through interviews with dozens of public health experts, consultants, and frontline educators, we present a broad spectrum of options for how to open and operate schools in the COVID-19 crisis, explore specific strategies that some districts will adopt, and explain the pros, the cons, and the costs.

—The Editors
Coverage of whole-child approaches to learning is supported in part by a grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, at www.chanzuckerberg.com. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.