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Covid 19 Essay in English
Essay on Covid -19: In a very short amount of time, coronavirus has spread globally. It has had an enormous impact on people's lives, economy, and societies all around the world, affecting every country. Governments have had to take severe measures to try and contain the pandemic. The virus has altered our way of life in many ways, including its effects on our health and our economy. Here are a few sample essays on ‘CoronaVirus’.
100 Words Essay on Covid 19
200 words essay on covid 19, 500 words essay on covid 19.
COVID-19 or Corona Virus is a novel coronavirus that was first identified in 2019. It is similar to other coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, but it is more contagious and has caused more severe respiratory illness in people who have been infected. The novel coronavirus became a global pandemic in a very short period of time. It has affected lives, economies and societies across the world, leaving no country untouched. The virus has caused governments to take drastic measures to try and contain it. From health implications to economic and social ramifications, COVID-19 impacted every part of our lives. It has been more than 2 years since the pandemic hit and the world is still recovering from its effects.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the world has been impacted in a number of ways. For one, the global economy has taken a hit as businesses have been forced to close their doors. This has led to widespread job losses and an increase in poverty levels around the world. Additionally, countries have had to impose strict travel restrictions in an attempt to contain the virus, which has resulted in a decrease in tourism and international trade. Furthermore, the pandemic has put immense pressure on healthcare systems globally, as hospitals have been overwhelmed with patients suffering from the virus. Lastly, the outbreak has led to a general feeling of anxiety and uncertainty, as people are fearful of contracting the disease.
My Experience of COVID-19
I still remember how abruptly colleges and schools shut down in March 2020. I was a college student at that time and I was under the impression that everything would go back to normal in a few weeks. I could not have been more wrong. The situation only got worse every week and the government had to impose a lockdown. There were so many restrictions in place. For example, we had to wear face masks whenever we left the house, and we could only go out for essential errands. Restaurants and shops were only allowed to operate at take-out capacity, and many businesses were shut down.
In the current scenario, coronavirus is dominating all aspects of our lives. The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc upon people’s lives, altering the way we live and work in a very short amount of time. It has revolutionised how we think about health care, education, and even social interaction. This virus has had long-term implications on our society, including its impact on mental health, economic stability, and global politics. But we as individuals can help to mitigate these effects by taking personal responsibility to protect themselves and those around them from infection.
Effects of CoronaVirus on Education
The outbreak of coronavirus has had a significant impact on education systems around the world. In China, where the virus originated, all schools and universities were closed for several weeks in an effort to contain the spread of the disease. Many other countries have followed suit, either closing schools altogether or suspending classes for a period of time.
This has resulted in a major disruption to the education of millions of students. Some have been able to continue their studies online, but many have not had access to the internet or have not been able to afford the costs associated with it. This has led to a widening of the digital divide between those who can afford to continue their education online and those who cannot.
The closure of schools has also had a negative impact on the mental health of many students. With no face-to-face contact with friends and teachers, some students have felt isolated and anxious. This has been compounded by the worry and uncertainty surrounding the virus itself.
The situation with coronavirus has improved and schools have been reopened but students are still catching up with the gap of 2 years that the pandemic created. In the meantime, governments and educational institutions are working together to find ways to support students and ensure that they are able to continue their education despite these difficult circumstances.
Effects of CoronaVirus on Economy
The outbreak of the coronavirus has had a significant impact on the global economy. The virus, which originated in China, has spread to over two hundred countries, resulting in widespread panic and a decrease in global trade. As a result of the outbreak, many businesses have been forced to close their doors, leading to a rise in unemployment. In addition, the stock market has taken a severe hit.
Effects of CoronaVirus on Health
The effects that coronavirus has on one's health are still being studied and researched as the virus continues to spread throughout the world. However, some of the potential effects on health that have been observed thus far include respiratory problems, fever, and coughing. In severe cases, pneumonia, kidney failure, and death can occur. It is important for people who think they may have been exposed to the virus to seek medical attention immediately so that they can be treated properly and avoid any serious complications. There is no specific cure or treatment for coronavirus at this time, but there are ways to help ease symptoms and prevent the virus from spreading.
Explore Career Options (By Industry)
- Information Technology
Bio Medical Engineer
The field of biomedical engineering opens up a universe of expert chances. An Individual in the biomedical engineering career path work in the field of engineering as well as medicine, in order to find out solutions to common problems of the two fields. The biomedical engineering job opportunities are to collaborate with doctors and researchers to develop medical systems, equipment, or devices that can solve clinical problems. Here we will be discussing jobs after biomedical engineering, how to get a job in biomedical engineering, biomedical engineering scope, and salary.
Database professionals use software to store and organise data such as financial information, and customer shipping records. Individuals who opt for a career as data administrators ensure that data is available for users and secured from unauthorised sales. DB administrators may work in various types of industries. It may involve computer systems design, service firms, insurance companies, banks and hospitals.
The role of geotechnical engineer starts with reviewing the projects needed to define the required material properties. The work responsibilities are followed by a site investigation of rock, soil, fault distribution and bedrock properties on and below an area of interest. The investigation is aimed to improve the ground engineering design and determine their engineering properties that include how they will interact with, on or in a proposed construction.
The role of geotechnical engineer in mining includes designing and determining the type of foundations, earthworks, and or pavement subgrades required for the intended man-made structures to be made. Geotechnical engineering jobs are involved in earthen and concrete dam construction projects, working under a range of normal and extreme loading conditions.
Within the graphic design and graphic arts industry, a graphic designer is a specialist who designs and builds images, graphic design, or visual effects to develop a piece of artwork. In career as graphic designer, individuals primarily generate the graphics for publishing houses and printed or electronic digital media like pamphlets and commercials. There are various options for industrial graphic design employment. Graphic design career includes providing numerous opportunities in the media industry.
How fascinating it is to represent the whole world on just a piece of paper or a sphere. With the help of maps, we are able to represent the real world on a much smaller scale. Individuals who opt for a career as a cartographer are those who make maps. But, cartography is not just limited to maps, it is about a mixture of art , science , and technology. As a cartographer, not only you will create maps but use various geodetic surveys and remote sensing systems to measure, analyse, and create different maps for political, cultural or educational purposes.
GIS officer work on various GIS software to conduct a study and gather spatial and non-spatial information. GIS experts update the GIS data and maintain it. The databases include aerial or satellite imagery, latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates, and manually digitized images of maps. In a career as GIS expert, one is responsible for creating online and mobile maps.
If you are intrigued by the programming world and are interested in developing communications networks then a career as database architect may be a good option for you. Data architect roles and responsibilities include building design models for data communication networks. Wide Area Networks (WANs), local area networks (LANs), and intranets are included in the database networks. It is expected that database architects will have in-depth knowledge of a company's business to develop a network to fulfil the requirements of the organisation. Stay tuned as we look at the larger picture and give you more information on what is db architecture, why you should pursue database architecture, what to expect from such a degree and what your job opportunities will be after graduation. Here, we will be discussing how to become a data architect. Students can visit NIT Trichy , IIT Kharagpur , JMI New Delhi .
Individuals who opt for a career as geothermal engineers are the professionals involved in the processing of geothermal energy. The responsibilities of geothermal engineers may vary depending on the workplace location. Those who work in fields design facilities to process and distribute geothermal energy. They oversee the functioning of machinery used in the field.
Risk Management Specialist
Individuals who opt for a career as a risk management specialist are professionals who are responsible for identifying risks involved in business that may include loss of assets, property, personnel or cash flow. Credit risk manager responsibilities are to identifies business opportunities and eliminates issues related to insurance or safety that may cause property litigation. A risk management specialist is responsible for increasing benefits.
In the career as an insurance analyst, one can monitor the choices the customers make about which insurance policy options best suit their requirements. They research and make recommendations that have a real impact on the financial well-being of a client down the road. Insurance companies are helping people prepare themselves for the long term. Insurance Analysts find the documents of the claim and perform a thorough investigation, like travelling to places where the incident has occurred, gathering evidence, and working with law enforcement officers.
A career as a Finance Executive requires one to be responsible for monitoring an organisation's income, investments and expenses to create and evaluate financial reports. His or her role involves performing audits, invoices, and budget preparations. He or she manages accounting activities, bank reconciliations, and payable and receivable accounts.
Bank Branch Manager
Bank Branch Managers work in a specific section of banking related to the invention and generation of capital for other organisations, governments, and other entities. Bank Branch Managers work for the organisations and underwrite new debts and equity securities for all type of companies, aid in the sale of securities, as well as help to facilitate mergers and acquisitions, reorganisations, and broker trades for both institutions and private investors.
Treasury analyst career path is often regarded as certified treasury specialist in some business situations, is a finance expert who specifically manages a company or organisation's long-term and short-term financial targets. Treasurer synonym could be a financial officer, which is one of the reputed positions in the corporate world. In a large company, the corporate treasury jobs hold power over the financial decision-making of the total investment and development strategy of the organisation.
An underwriter is a person who assesses and evaluates the risk of insurance in his or her field like mortgage, loan, health policy, investment, and so on and so forth. The underwriter career path does involve risks as analysing the risks means finding out if there is a way for the insurance underwriter jobs to recover the money from its clients. If the risk turns out to be too much for the company then in the future it is an underwriter who will be held accountable for it. Therefore, one must carry out his or her job with a lot of attention and diligence.
A Product Manager is a professional responsible for product planning and marketing. He or she manages the product throughout the Product Life Cycle, gathering and prioritising the product. A product manager job description includes defining the product vision and working closely with team members of other departments to deliver winning products.
A career as a securities broker is filled with excitement and plenty of responsibilities. One cannot afford to miss out on the details. These types of brokers explain to their clients the complex details related to the securities or the stock market. Choosing to become a securities broker is a good career choice especially due to the liberalization as well as economic growth. There are several companies and organizations in India which hire a securities broker. If you are also thinking of making a career in this field then continue reading the article, it will answer all your questions related to the field.
A career as Transportation Planner requires technical application of science and technology in engineering, particularly the concepts, equipment and technologies involved in the production of products and services. In fields like land use, infrastructure review, ecological standards and street design, he or she considers issues of health, environment and performance. A Transportation Planner assigns resources for implementing and designing programmes. He or she is responsible for assessing needs, preparing plans and forecasts and compliance with regulations.
Individuals who opt for a career as construction managers have a senior-level management role offered in construction firms. Responsibilities in the construction management career path are assigning tasks to workers, inspecting their work, and coordinating with other professionals including architects, subcontractors, and building services engineers.
Carpenters are typically construction workers. They stay involved in performing many types of construction activities. It includes cutting, fitting and assembling wood. Carpenters may help in building constructions, bridges, big ships and boats. Here, in the article, we will discuss carpenter career path, carpenter salary, how to become a carpenter, carpenter job outlook.
An individual who opts for a career as a welder is a professional tradesman who is skilled in creating a fusion between two metal pieces to join it together with the use of a manual or fully automatic welding machine in their welder career path. It is joined by intense heat and gas released between the metal pieces through the welding machine to permanently fix it.
Individuals who opt for a career as an environmental engineer are construction professionals who utilise the skills and knowledge of biology, soil science, chemistry and the concept of engineering to design and develop projects that serve as solutions to various environmental problems.
A Naval Architect is a professional who designs, produces and repairs safe and sea-worthy surfaces or underwater structures. A Naval Architect stays involved in creating and designing ships, ferries, submarines and yachts with implementation of various principles such as gravity, ideal hull form, buoyancy and stability.
Welding Engineer Job Description: A Welding Engineer work involves managing welding projects and supervising welding teams. He or she is responsible for reviewing welding procedures, processes and documentation. A career as Welding Engineer involves conducting failure analyses and causes on welding issues.
Are you searching for a Field Surveyor Job Description? A Field Surveyor is a professional responsible for conducting field surveys for various places or geographical conditions. He or she collects the required data and information as per the instructions given by senior officials.
Orthotist and Prosthetist
Orthotists and Prosthetists are professionals who provide aid to patients with disabilities. They fix them to artificial limbs (prosthetics) and help them to regain stability. There are times when people lose their limbs in an accident. In some other occasions, they are born without a limb or orthopaedic impairment. Orthotists and prosthetists play a crucial role in their lives with fixing them to assistive devices and provide mobility.
A veterinary doctor is a medical professional with a degree in veterinary science. The veterinary science qualification is the minimum requirement to become a veterinary doctor. There are numerous veterinary science courses offered by various institutes. He or she is employed at zoos to ensure they are provided with good health facilities and medical care to improve their life expectancy.
A career in pathology in India is filled with several responsibilities as it is a medical branch and affects human lives. The demand for pathologists has been increasing over the past few years as people are getting more aware of different diseases. Not only that, but an increase in population and lifestyle changes have also contributed to the increase in a pathologist’s demand. The pathology careers provide an extremely huge number of opportunities and if you want to be a part of the medical field you can consider being a pathologist. If you want to know more about a career in pathology in India then continue reading this article.
Gynaecology can be defined as the study of the female body. The job outlook for gynaecology is excellent since there is evergreen demand for one because of their responsibility of dealing with not only women’s health but also fertility and pregnancy issues. Although most women prefer to have a women obstetrician gynaecologist as their doctor, men also explore a career as a gynaecologist and there are ample amounts of male doctors in the field who are gynaecologists and aid women during delivery and childbirth.
A career as paediatrician has emerged as one of India's most popular career choices. By choosing a career as paediatrician, not only in India but also overseas, one can find lucrative work profiles as demand for talented and professional paediatricians is increasing day by day. If you are passionate about children and have the patience to evaluate and diagnose their issues, you may have a good career as paediatricians. Paediatricians take care of children's physical, mental and emotional health from infancy to adolescence.
An oncologist is a specialised doctor responsible for providing medical care to patients diagnosed with cancer. He or she uses several therapies to control the cancer and its effect on the human body such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy and biopsy. An oncologist designs a treatment plan based on a pathology report after diagnosing the type of cancer and where it is spreading inside the body.
When it comes to an operation theatre, there are several tasks that are to be carried out before as well as after the operation or surgery has taken place. Such tasks are not possible without surgical tech and surgical tech tools. A single surgeon cannot do it all alone. It’s like for a footballer he needs his team’s support to score a goal the same goes for a surgeon. It is here, when a surgical technologist comes into the picture. It is the job of a surgical technologist to prepare the operation theatre with all the required equipment before the surgery. Not only that, once an operation is done it is the job of the surgical technologist to clean all the equipment. One has to fulfil the minimum requirements of surgical tech qualifications.
Also Read: Career as Nurse
Ophthalmic Medical Technician
Ophthalmic technician careers are one of the booming careers option available in the field of healthcare. Being a part of this field as an ophthalmic medical technician can provide several career opportunities for an individual. With advancing technology the job of individuals who opt for a career as ophthalmic medical technicians have become of even more importance as he or she is required to assist the ophthalmologist in using different types of machinery. If you want to know more about the field and what are the several job opportunities, work environment, just about anything continues reading the article and all your questions shall be answered.
For an individual who opts for a career as an actor, the primary responsibility is to completely speak to the character he or she is playing and to persuade the crowd that the character is genuine by connecting with them and bringing them into the story. This applies to significant roles and littler parts, as all roles join to make an effective creation. Here in this article, we will discuss how to become an actor in India, actor exams, actor salary in India, and actor jobs.
Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats create and direct original routines for themselves, in addition to developing interpretations of existing routines. The work of circus acrobats can be seen in a variety of performance settings, including circus, reality shows, sports events like the Olympics, movies and commercials. Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats must be prepared to face rejections and intermittent periods of work. The creativity of acrobats may extend to other aspects of the performance. For example, acrobats in the circus may work with gym trainers, celebrities or collaborate with other professionals to enhance such performance elements as costume and or maybe at the teaching end of the career.
Video Game Designer
Career as a video game designer is filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. A video game designer is someone who is involved in the process of creating a game from day one. He or she is responsible for fulfilling duties like designing the character of the game, the several levels involved, plot, art and similar other elements. Individuals who opt for a career as a video game designer may also write the codes for the game using different programming languages. Depending on the video game designer job description and experience they may also have to lead a team and do the early testing of the game in order to suggest changes and find loopholes.
The career as a Talent Agent is filled with responsibilities. A Talent Agent is someone who is involved in the pre-production process of the film. It is a very busy job for a Talent Agent but as and when an individual gains experience and progresses in the career he or she can have people assisting him or her in work. Depending on one’s responsibilities, number of clients and experience he or she may also have to lead a team and work with juniors under him or her in a talent agency. In order to know more about the job of a talent agent continue reading the article.
If you want to know more about talent agent meaning, how to become a Talent Agent, or Talent Agent job description then continue reading this article.
Radio Jockey is an exciting, promising career and a great challenge for music lovers. If you are really interested in a career as radio jockey, then it is very important for an RJ to have an automatic, fun, and friendly personality. If you want to get a job done in this field, a strong command of the language and a good voice are always good things. Apart from this, in order to be a good radio jockey, you will also listen to good radio jockeys so that you can understand their style and later make your own by practicing.
A career as radio jockey has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. If you want to know more about a career as radio jockey, and how to become a radio jockey then continue reading the article.
Career as a Music Teacher is a fun and exciting job if you are skilled and passionate about this career. A Music Teacher is responsible for teaching students music, instruments, techniques, technology, singing, and many more. He or she helps students to analyze musical works, and concepts of music and assigns and evaluates lessons.
An individual who is pursuing a career as a producer is responsible for managing the business aspects of production. They are involved in each aspect of production from its inception to deception. Famous movie producers review the script, recommend changes and visualise the story.
They are responsible for overseeing the finance involved in the project and distributing the film for broadcasting on various platforms. A career as a producer is quite fulfilling as well as exhaustive in terms of playing different roles in order for a production to be successful. Famous movie producers are responsible for hiring creative and technical personnel on contract basis.
The word “choreography" actually comes from Greek words that mean “dance writing." Individuals who opt for a career as a choreographer create and direct original dances, in addition to developing interpretations of existing dances. A Choreographer dances and utilises his or her creativity in other aspects of dance performance. For example, he or she may work with the music director to select music or collaborate with other famous choreographers to enhance such performance elements as lighting, costume and set design.
In a career as a copywriter, one has to consult with the client and understand the brief well. A career as a copywriter has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. Several new mediums of advertising are opening therefore making it a lucrative career choice. Students can pursue various copywriter courses such as Journalism , Advertising , Marketing Management . Here, we have discussed how to become a freelance copywriter, copywriter career path, how to become a copywriter in India, and copywriting career outlook.
Individuals in the editor career path is an unsung hero of the news industry who polishes the language of the news stories provided by stringers, reporters, copywriters and content writers and also news agencies. Individuals who opt for a career as an editor make it more persuasive, concise and clear for readers. In this article, we will discuss the details of the editor's career path such as how to become an editor in India, editor salary in India and editor skills and qualities.
Careers in journalism are filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. One cannot afford to miss out on the details. As it is the small details that provide insights into a story. Depending on those insights a journalist goes about writing a news article. A journalism career can be stressful at times but if you are someone who is passionate about it then it is the right choice for you. If you want to know more about the media field and journalist career then continue reading this article.
A career as news anchor requires to be working closely with reporters to collect information, broadcast newscasts and interview guests throughout the day. A news anchor job description is to track the latest affairs and present news stories in an insightful, meaningful and impartial manner to the public. A news anchor in India needs to be updated on the news of the day. He or she even works with the news director to pick stories to air, taking into consideration the interests of the viewer.
For publishing books, newspapers, magazines and digital material, editorial and commercial strategies are set by publishers. Individuals in publishing career paths make choices about the markets their businesses will reach and the type of content that their audience will be served. Individuals in book publisher careers collaborate with editorial staff, designers, authors, and freelance contributors who develop and manage the creation of content.
In a career as a vlogger, one generally works for himself or herself. However, once an individual has gained viewership there are several brands and companies that approach them for paid collaboration. It is one of those fields where an individual can earn well while following his or her passion. Ever since internet cost got reduced the viewership for these types of content has increased on a large scale. Therefore, the career as vlogger has a lot to offer. If you want to know more about the career as vlogger, how to become a vlogger, so on and so forth then continue reading the article. Students can visit Jamia Millia Islamia , Asian College of Journalism , Indian Institute of Mass Communication to pursue journalism degrees.
Careers in videography are art that can be defined as a creative and interpretive process that culminates in the authorship of an original work of art rather than a simple recording of a simple event. It would be wrong to portrait it as a subcategory of photography, rather photography is one of the crafts used in videographer jobs in addition to technical skills like organization, management, interpretation, and image-manipulation techniques. Students pursue Visual Media , Film, Television, Digital Video Production to opt for a videographer career path. The visual impacts of a film are driven by the creative decisions taken in videography jobs. Individuals who opt for a career as a videographer are involved in the entire lifecycle of a film and production.
An SEO Analyst is a web professional who is proficient in the implementation of SEO strategies to target more keywords to improve the reach of the content on search engines. He or she provides support to acquire the goals and success of the client’s campaigns.
A career as a gemologist is as magnificent and sparkling as gemstones. A gemologist is a professional who has knowledge and understanding of gemology and he or she applies the same knowledge in his everyday work responsibilities. He or she grades gemstones using various equipment and determines its worth. His or her other work responsibilities involve settling gemstones in jewellery, polishing and examining it.
Production Manager Job Description: A Production Manager is responsible for ensuring smooth running of manufacturing processes in an efficient manner. He or she plans and organises production schedules. The role of Production Manager involves estimation, negotiation on budget and timescales with the clients and managers.
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A Commercial Manager negotiates, advises and secures information about pricing for commercial contracts. He or she is responsible for developing financial plans in order to maximise the business's profitability.
Quality Assurance Manager Job Description: A QA Manager is an administrative professional responsible for overseeing the activity of the QA department and staff. It involves developing, implementing and maintaining a system that is qualified and reliable for testing to meet specifications of products of organisations as well as development processes.
Are you searching for a Reliability Engineer job description? A Reliability Engineer is responsible for ensuring long lasting and high quality products. He or she ensures that materials, manufacturing equipment, components and processes are error free. A Reliability Engineer role comes with the responsibility of minimising risks and effectiveness of processes and equipment.
A Safety Manager is a professional responsible for employee’s safety at work. He or she plans, implements and oversees the company’s employee safety. A Safety Manager ensures compliance and adherence to Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) guidelines.
ITSM Manager is a professional responsible for heading the ITSM (Information Technology Service Management) or (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) processes. He or she ensures that operation management provides appropriate resource levels for problem resolutions. The ITSM Manager oversees the level of prioritisation for the problems, critical incidents, planned as well as proactive tasks.
Careers in computer programming primarily refer to the systematic act of writing code and moreover include wider computer science areas. The word 'programmer' or 'coder' has entered into practice with the growing number of newly self-taught tech enthusiasts. Computer programming careers involve the use of designs created by software developers and engineers and transforming them into commands that can be implemented by computers. These commands result in regular usage of social media sites, word-processing applications and browsers.
An IT Consultant is a professional who is also known as a technology consultant. He or she is required to provide consultation to industrial and commercial clients to resolve business and IT problems and acquire optimum growth. An IT consultant can find work by signing up with an IT consultancy firm, or they can work on their own as independent contractors and select the projects they want to work on.
A Data Architect role involves formulating the organisational data strategy. It involves data quality, flow of data within the organisation and security of data. The vision of Data Architect provides support to convert business requirements into technical requirements.
AI Data Analyst
An AI Data Analyst is responsible for procuring, preparing, cleansing and modelling data utilising machine learning models and new analytical methods. He or she designs and creates data reports in order to provide support to stakeholders to make better decisions.
Automation Test Engineer
An Automation Test Engineer job involves executing automated test scripts. He or she identifies the project’s problems and troubleshoots them. The role involves documenting the defect using management tools. He or she works with the application team in order to resolve any issues arising during the testing process.
A UX Architect is someone who influences the design processes and its outcomes. He or she possesses a solid understanding of user research, information architecture, interaction design and content strategy.
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Coronavirus and schools: Reflections on education one year into the pandemic
Subscribe to the center for universal education bulletin, daphna bassok , daphna bassok nonresident senior fellow - governance studies , brown center on education policy @daphnabassok lauren bauer , lauren bauer fellow - economic studies , associate director - the hamilton project @laurenlbauer stephanie riegg cellini , stephanie riegg cellini nonresident senior fellow - governance studies , brown center on education policy @srcellini helen shwe hadani , helen shwe hadani former brookings expert @helenshadani michael hansen , michael hansen senior fellow - brown center on education policy , the herman and george r. brown chair - governance studies @drmikehansen douglas n. harris , douglas n. harris nonresident senior fellow - governance studies , brown center on education policy , professor and chair, department of economics - tulane university @douglasharris99 brad olsen , brad olsen senior fellow - global economy and development , center for universal education @bradolsen_dc richard v. reeves , richard v. reeves president - american institute for boys and men @richardvreeves jon valant , and jon valant director - brown center on education policy , senior fellow - governance studies @jonvalant kenneth k. wong kenneth k. wong nonresident senior fellow - governance studies , brown center on education policy.
March 12, 2021
- 11 min read
One year ago, the World Health Organization declared the spread of COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic. Reacting to the virus, schools at every level were sent scrambling. Institutions across the world switched to virtual learning, with teachers, students, and local leaders quickly adapting to an entirely new way of life. A year later, schools are beginning to reopen, the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill has been passed, and a sense of normalcy seems to finally be in view; in President Joe Biden’s speech last night, he spoke of “finding light in the darkness.” But it’s safe to say that COVID-19 will end up changing education forever, casting a critical light on everything from equity issues to ed tech to school financing.
Below, Brookings experts examine how the pandemic upended the education landscape in the past year, what it’s taught us about schooling, and where we go from here.
In the United States, we tend to focus on the educating roles of public schools, largely ignoring the ways in which schools provide free and essential care for children while their parents work. When COVID-19 shuttered in-person schooling, it eliminated this subsidized child care for many families. It created intense stress for working parents, especially for mothers who left the workforce at a high rate.
The pandemic also highlighted the arbitrary distinction we make between the care and education of elementary school children and children aged 0 to 5 . Despite parents having the same need for care, and children learning more in those earliest years than at any other point, public investments in early care and education are woefully insufficient. The child-care sector was hit so incredibly hard by COVID-19. The recent passage of the American Rescue Plan is a meaningful but long-overdue investment, but much more than a one-time infusion of funds is needed. Hopefully, the pandemic represents a turning point in how we invest in the care and education of young children—and, in turn, in families and society.
Congressional reauthorization of Pandemic EBT for this school year , its extension in the American Rescue Plan (including for summer months), and its place as a central plank in the Biden administration’s anti-hunger agenda is well-warranted and evidence based. But much more needs to be done to ramp up the program–even today , six months after its reauthorization, about half of states do not have a USDA-approved implementation plan.
In contrast, enrollment is up in for-profit and online colleges. The research repeatedly finds weaker student outcomes for these types of institutions relative to community colleges, and many students who enroll in them will be left with more debt than they can reasonably repay. The pandemic and recession have created significant challenges for students, affecting college choices and enrollment decisions in the near future. Ultimately, these short-term choices can have long-term consequences for lifetime earnings and debt that could impact this generation of COVID-19-era college students for years to come.
Many U.S. educationalists are drawing on the “build back better” refrain and calling for the current crisis to be leveraged as a unique opportunity for educators, parents, and policymakers to fully reimagine education systems that are designed for the 21st rather than the 20th century, as we highlight in a recent Brookings report on education reform . An overwhelming body of evidence points to play as the best way to equip children with a broad set of flexible competencies and support their socioemotional development. A recent article in The Atlantic shared parent anecdotes of children playing games like “CoronaBall” and “Social-distance” tag, proving that play permeates children’s lives—even in a pandemic.
Tests play a critical role in our school system. Policymakers and the public rely on results to measure school performance and reveal whether all students are equally served. But testing has also attracted an inordinate share of criticism, alleging that test pressures undermine teacher autonomy and stress students. Much of this criticism will wither away with different formats. The current form of standardized testing—annual, paper-based, multiple-choice tests administered over the course of a week of school—is outdated. With widespread student access to computers (now possible due to the pandemic), states can test students more frequently, but in smaller time blocks that render the experience nearly invisible. Computer adaptive testing can match paper’s reliability and provides a shorter feedback loop to boot. No better time than the present to make this overdue change.
A third push for change will come from the outside in. COVID-19 has reminded us not only of how integral schools are, but how intertwined they are with the rest of society. This means that upcoming schooling changes will also be driven by the effects of COVID-19 on the world around us. In particular, parents will be working more from home, using the same online tools that students can use to learn remotely. This doesn’t mean a mass push for homeschooling, but it probably does mean that hybrid learning is here to stay.
I am hoping we will use this forced rupture in the fabric of schooling to jettison ineffective aspects of education, more fully embrace what we know works, and be bold enough to look for new solutions to the educational problems COVID-19 has illuminated.
There is already a large gender gap in education in the U.S., including in high school graduation rates , and increasingly in college-going and college completion. While the pandemic appears to be hurting women more than men in the labor market, the opposite seems to be true in education.
Looking through a policy lens, though, I’m struck by the timing and what that timing might mean for the future of education. Before the pandemic, enthusiasm for the education reforms that had defined the last few decades—choice and accountability—had waned. It felt like a period between reform eras, with the era to come still very unclear. Then COVID-19 hit, and it coincided with a national reckoning on racial injustice and a wake-up call about the fragility of our democracy. I think it’s helped us all see how connected the work of schools is with so much else in American life.
We’re in a moment when our long-lasting challenges have been laid bare, new challenges have emerged, educators and parents are seeing and experimenting with things for the first time, and the political environment has changed (with, for example, a new administration and changing attitudes on federal spending). I still don’t know where K-12 education is headed, but there’s no doubt that a pivot is underway.
- First, state and local leaders must leverage commitment and shared goals on equitable learning opportunities to support student success for all.
- Second, align and use federal, state, and local resources to implement high-leverage strategies that have proven to accelerate learning for diverse learners and disrupt the correlation between zip code and academic outcomes.
- Third, student-centered priority will require transformative leadership to dismantle the one-size-fits-all delivery rule and institute incentive-based practices for strong performance at all levels.
- Fourth, the reconfigured system will need to activate public and parental engagement to strengthen its civic and social capacity.
- Finally, public education can no longer remain insulated from other policy sectors, especially public health, community development, and social work.
These efforts will strengthen the capacity and prepare our education system for the next crisis—whatever it may be.
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How to Write About Coronavirus in a College Essay
Students can share how they navigated life during the coronavirus pandemic in a full-length essay or an optional supplement.
Writing About COVID-19 in College Essays
Experts say students should be honest and not limit themselves to merely their experiences with the pandemic. (Getty Images)
The global impact of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, means colleges and prospective students alike are in for an admissions cycle like no other. Both face unprecedented challenges and questions as they grapple with their respective futures amid the ongoing fallout of the pandemic.
Colleges must examine applicants without the aid of standardized test scores for many – a factor that prompted many schools to go test-optional for now . Even grades, a significant component of a college application, may be hard to interpret with some high schools adopting pass-fail classes last spring due to the pandemic. Major college admissions factors are suddenly skewed.
"I can't help but think other (admissions) factors are going to matter more," says Ethan Sawyer, founder of the College Essay Guy, a website that offers free and paid essay-writing resources.
College essays and letters of recommendation , Sawyer says, are likely to carry more weight than ever in this admissions cycle. And many essays will likely focus on how the pandemic shaped students' lives throughout an often tumultuous 2020.
But before writing a college essay focused on the coronavirus, students should explore whether it's the best topic for them.
Writing About COVID-19 for a College Application
Much of daily life has been colored by the coronavirus. Virtual learning is the norm at many colleges and high schools, many extracurriculars have vanished and social lives have stalled for students complying with measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.
"For some young people, the pandemic took away what they envisioned as their senior year," says Robert Alexander, dean of admissions, financial aid and enrollment management at the University of Rochester in New York. "Maybe that's a spot on a varsity athletic team or the lead role in the fall play. And it's OK for them to mourn what should have been and what they feel like they lost, but more important is how are they making the most of the opportunities they do have?"
That question, Alexander says, is what colleges want answered if students choose to address COVID-19 in their college essay.
But the question of whether a student should write about the coronavirus is tricky. The answer depends largely on the student.
"In general, I don't think students should write about COVID-19 in their main personal statement for their application," Robin Miller, master college admissions counselor at IvyWise, a college counseling company, wrote in an email.
"Certainly, there may be exceptions to this based on a student's individual experience, but since the personal essay is the main place in the application where the student can really allow their voice to be heard and share insight into who they are as an individual, there are likely many other topics they can choose to write about that are more distinctive and unique than COVID-19," Miller says.
Opinions among admissions experts vary on whether to write about the likely popular topic of the pandemic.
"If your essay communicates something positive, unique, and compelling about you in an interesting and eloquent way, go for it," Carolyn Pippen, principal college admissions counselor at IvyWise, wrote in an email. She adds that students shouldn't be dissuaded from writing about a topic merely because it's common, noting that "topics are bound to repeat, no matter how hard we try to avoid it."
Above all, she urges honesty.
"If your experience within the context of the pandemic has been truly unique, then write about that experience, and the standing out will take care of itself," Pippen says. "If your experience has been generally the same as most other students in your context, then trying to find a unique angle can easily cross the line into exploiting a tragedy, or at least appearing as though you have."
But focusing entirely on the pandemic can limit a student to a single story and narrow who they are in an application, Sawyer says. "There are so many wonderful possibilities for what you can say about yourself outside of your experience within the pandemic."
He notes that passions, strengths, career interests and personal identity are among the multitude of essay topic options available to applicants and encourages them to probe their values to help determine the topic that matters most to them – and write about it.
That doesn't mean the pandemic experience has to be ignored if applicants feel the need to write about it.
Writing About Coronavirus in Main and Supplemental Essays
Students can choose to write a full-length college essay on the coronavirus or summarize their experience in a shorter form.
To help students explain how the pandemic affected them, The Common App has added an optional section to address this topic. Applicants have 250 words to describe their pandemic experience and the personal and academic impact of COVID-19.
"That's not a trick question, and there's no right or wrong answer," Alexander says. Colleges want to know, he adds, how students navigated the pandemic, how they prioritized their time, what responsibilities they took on and what they learned along the way.
If students can distill all of the above information into 250 words, there's likely no need to write about it in a full-length college essay, experts say. And applicants whose lives were not heavily altered by the pandemic may even choose to skip the optional COVID-19 question.
"This space is best used to discuss hardship and/or significant challenges that the student and/or the student's family experienced as a result of COVID-19 and how they have responded to those difficulties," Miller notes. Using the section to acknowledge a lack of impact, she adds, "could be perceived as trite and lacking insight, despite the good intentions of the applicant."
To guard against this lack of awareness, Sawyer encourages students to tap someone they trust to review their writing , whether it's the 250-word Common App response or the full-length essay.
Experts tend to agree that the short-form approach to this as an essay topic works better, but there are exceptions. And if a student does have a coronavirus story that he or she feels must be told, Alexander encourages the writer to be authentic in the essay.
"My advice for an essay about COVID-19 is the same as my advice about an essay for any topic – and that is, don't write what you think we want to read or hear," Alexander says. "Write what really changed you and that story that now is yours and yours alone to tell."
Sawyer urges students to ask themselves, "What's the sentence that only I can write?" He also encourages students to remember that the pandemic is only a chapter of their lives and not the whole book.
Miller, who cautions against writing a full-length essay on the coronavirus, says that if students choose to do so they should have a conversation with their high school counselor about whether that's the right move. And if students choose to proceed with COVID-19 as a topic, she says they need to be clear, detailed and insightful about what they learned and how they adapted along the way.
"Approaching the essay in this manner will provide important balance while demonstrating personal growth and vulnerability," Miller says.
Pippen encourages students to remember that they are in an unprecedented time for college admissions.
"It is important to keep in mind with all of these (admission) factors that no colleges have ever had to consider them this way in the selection process, if at all," Pippen says. "They have had very little time to calibrate their evaluations of different application components within their offices, let alone across institutions. This means that colleges will all be handling the admissions process a little bit differently, and their approaches may even evolve over the course of the admissions cycle."
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Best Education Essays of 2021: Our 15 Most Discussed Columns About Schools, COVID Slide, Learning Recovery & More
A full calendar year of education under COVID-19 and its variants gave rise to a wave of memorable essays in 2021, focusing both on the ongoing damage done and how to mitigate learning loss going forward.
While consensus emerged around several key themes — the need for extensive, in-depth tutoring, the possibilities presented by unprecedented millions in federal relief dollars for schools, the opportunity for education reimagined — there was far less agreement on whether to remediate or accelerate, which health and safety measures schools should employ, even how dire the shortage of teachers and school staff really is.
From grade-level standards and hygiene theater to lessons from the Spanish flu and homeschooling, here are the 15 most read and buzzed-about essays of 2021:
Analysis: Focus on Grade-Level Standards or Meet Students Where They Are? How an Unintentional Experiment Guided a Strategy for Addressing Learning Loss
Learning Recovery: What’s the best way to support learning recovery in middle-grade math? Should schools stay focused on grade-level standards while trying to address critical learning gaps as best as they can? Or should they systematically address individual students’ unfinished learning from prior years so they can ultimately catch back up — even if that means spending meaningful time teaching below-grade skills? As educators and administrators wrestle with those questions as they prepare to return to school in the fall, contributor Joel Rose offers some guidance inadvertently found in a study of Teach to One , an innovative learning model operated by New Classrooms Innovation Partners, the nonprofit where he is co-founder and CEO. That research found performance in schools with accountability systems that focused on grade-level proficiency (and thus prioritized grade-level exposure) grew 7 percentile points, while those that operated under systems that rewarded student growth (and thus prioritized individual student needs) grew 38 points. While the study was never intended to compare results across schools in this way, the stark difference between the two groups could not be ignored. Math is cumulative, and the path to proficiency often requires addressing unfinished learning from prior years. For the middle grades, administrators and policymakers would be wise to question the grade-level-only gospel as they begin to plan students’ educational recovery. Read the full analysis .
Lessons from Spanish Flu — Babies Born in 1919 Had Worse Educational, Life Outcomes Than Those Born Just Before or After. Could That Happen With COVID-19?
History: Contributor Chad Aldeman has some bad news: The effects of COVID-19 are likely to linger for decades. And if the Spanish Flu is any indication, babies born during the pandemic may suffer some devastating consequences . Compared with children born just before or after, babies born during the flu pandemic in 1919 were less likely to finish high school, earned less money and were more likely to depend on welfare assistance and serve time in jail. The harmful effects were twice as large for nonwhite children. It may take a few years to see whether similar educational and economic effects from COVID-19 start to materialize, but these are ominous findings suggesting that hidden economic factors may influence a child’s life in ways that aren’t obvious in the moment. Hopefully, they will give policymakers more reasons to speed economic recovery efforts and make sure they deliver benefits to families and children who are going to need them the most. Read the full essay .
Pittman & Darling-Hammond: Surveys Find Parents Want Bold Changes in Schools — With More Learning Inside and Outside the Classroom
Future of Education: Whatever they thought of their schools before the pandemic struck, parents now have strong opinions about what they want them to provide. They are looking beyond fall reopenings to rethink schooling, and they care about having good choices for interest-driven learning opportunities beyond the classroom . Two national parent surveys released in May shed new light on how to think about the often-used phrase “more and better learning.” Among the key findings, write contributors Karen Pittman and Linda Darling-Hammond: Parents want bold changes in schools, to make public education more equitable and learner-centered. But they also believe that home, school and extracurriculars play complementary roles in imparting the broad set of skills children need for their future success. This means educators and policymakers must support learning that extends beyond the school day, the school walls, the school staff and the traditional school approaches. Read the full essay .
High-Quality, High-Dosage Tutoring Can Reduce Learning Loss. A Blueprint for How Washington, States & Districts Can Make It Happen
Personalized Learning: There is near-unanimous, bipartisan agreement that tutoring is among the most promising, evidence-based strategies to help students struggling with learning loss . Decades of rigorous evaluations have consistently found that tutoring programs yield large, positive effects on math and reading achievement, and can even lead to greater social and motivational outcomes. It isn’t just the research community buzzing about tutoring — it is gaining momentum in policy circles, too. Which means there is a real opportunity — and responsibility — to design and deliver tutoring programs in a way that aligns with the research evidence, which is fortunately beginning to tell us more than just “tutoring works.” Contributors Sara Kerr and Kate Tromble of Results for America lay out a blueprint for how Washington, states and local school districts can make high-quality, high-dosage tutoring happen .
COVID-19 Raised Fears of Teacher Shortages. But the Situation Varies from State to State, School to School & Subject to Subject
Teacher Pipeline: Is the U.S. facing a major teacher shortage? Relatively low pay, a booming private sector and adverse working conditions in schools are all important elements in whether teaching is becoming an undesirable profession. But, writes contributor Dan Goldhaber, the factors that lead to attrition are diverse, so treating teachers as a monolith doesn’t help in crafting solutions to the real staffing challenges that some schools face. There is no national teacher labor market per se, because each state adopts its own rules for pay, licensure, tenure, pension and training requirements. And nationally, tens of thousands more people are prepared to teach than there are available positions. But while some schools have applicants lined up when an opening becomes available, others, typically those serving economically disadvantaged students, draw far fewer candidates. And schools tend to struggle to find teachers with special education or STEM training. The pandemic certainly raises concerns about teacher shortages; what is needed is a more nuanced conversation about teacher staffing to come up with more effective solutions to real problems. Read the full essay .
Clash of Cultures, Clash of Privilege — What Happened When 30 Low-Income Students of Color Were Admitted to Elite Prep Schools
Analysis: Programs like Prep for Prep and A Better Chance have long been regarded as groundbreaking solutions to the lack of diversity in the nation’s most elite prep schools. Teens who join these types of programs undergo a transfer of privilege that starts with their education and bleeds into every facet of their lives, forever altering their trajectory with opportunities that otherwise would likely be unattainable. But what assumptions do these programs subscribe to? And what lessons can be found in the experiences of the participants? In her Harvard senior thesis, contributor Jessica Herrera Chaidez followed 30 participants in a program that grants select socioeconomically disadvantaged students of color in the Los Angeles area the opportunity to attend famed independent schools. She found that the experiences of these students can be understood in various forms of twoness associated with this transfer of privilege, an internal struggle that begins with their introduction to the world of elite education and will come to mark them for their entire lives in a way that they aren’t even able to comprehend yet. Read more about her findings, and what some of these students had to say .
Steiner & Wilson: Some Tough Questions, and Some Answers, About Fighting COVID Slide While Accelerating Student Learning
Case Study: How prepared are district leaders, principals and teachers as they work to increase learning readiness for on-grade work this fall? That’s the question posed by contributors David Steiner and Barbara Wilson in a case study examining how a large urban district sought to adapt materials it was already using to implement an acceleration strategy for early elementary foundational skills in reading . Among the insights to be drawn: First, planning is critical. Leaders need to set out precisely how many minutes of instruction will be provided, the exact learning goals and the specific materials; identify all those involved (tutors, specialists, and teachers); and give them access to shared professional development on the chosen acceleration strategies. Second, this requires a sea change from business as usual, where teachers attempt to impart skill-based standards using an eclectic rather than a coherent curriculum. It is not possible to accelerate children with fragmented content. All efforts to prepare students for grade-level instruction must rest on fierce agreement about the shared curriculum to be taught in classrooms. What we teach is the anchor that holds everything else in place. Read the full essay .
Schools Are Facing a Surge of Failing Grades During the Pandemic — and Traditional Approaches Like Credit Recovery Will Not Be Enough to Manage It
Student Supports: Earlier this year, failing grades were on the rise across the country — especially for students who are learning online — and the trend threatened to exacerbate existing educational inequities. The rise in failing grades appears to be most pronounced among students from low-income households, multilingual students and students learning virtually . This could have lasting consequences: Students with failing grades tend to have less access to advanced courses in high school, and a failing grade in even one ninth-grade course can lower a student’s chances of graduating on time. Addressing the problem, though, won’t be easy. In many school systems, the rash of failed courses could overwhelm traditional approaches to helping students make up coursework they may have missed. In a new analysis, Betheny Gross, associate director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, implored school and district leaders to be especially wary of one long-established but questionable practice: credit recovery. Read more about her warning — as well as her recommendations for how districts should seek to reverse this learning loss .
Riccards: The 1776 Report Is a Political Document, Not a Curriculum. But It Has Something to Teach Us
Analysis: The 1776 Report was never intended to stand as curriculum, nor was it designed to be translated into a curriculum as the 1619 Project was. It is a political document offered by political voices. But, writes contributor Patrick Riccards, dismissing it would be a mistake, because it provides an important lesson . The American record, whether it be measured starting in 1619 or 1776, is hopeful and ugly, inspiring and debilitating, a shining beacon and an unshakable dark cloud. American history is messy and contradictory; how we teach it, even more so. For years, we have heard how important it is to increase investment in civics education. But from #BlackLivesMatter to 2020 electioneering to even the assault on the U.S. Capitol, the basics of civics have been on display in our streets and corridors of power. What we lack is the collective historical knowledge necessary to translate civic education into meaningful, positive community change. The 1776 Report identifies beliefs espoused by our Founding Fathers and many Confederates and reflected by those who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6. They are a part of our history that we must study, understand, contextualize and deconstruct. The 1776 Report becomes the proper close to the social studies lessons of the past four years. As the next chapter of American history is written, it is imperative to apply those lessons to significantly improve the teaching and learning of American history. Our nation’s future depends on better understanding our past .
There’s Lots of Education Data Out There — and It Can Be Misleading. Here Are 6 Questions to Ask
Student Data: Data is critical to addressing inequities in education. However, it is often misused, interpreted to fit a particular agenda or misread in ways that perpetuate an inaccurate story . Data that’s not broken down properly can hide gaps between different groups of students. Facts out of context can lead to superficial conclusions or deceptive narratives. In this essay, contributor Krista Kaput presents six questions that she asks herself when consuming data — and that you should, too .
Educators’ View: Principals Know Best What Their Schools Need. They Should Have a Central Role in Deciding How Relief Funds Are Spent
School Funding: The American Rescue Plan represents a once-in-a-generation federal commitment to K-12 schools across the country. The impact will be felt immediately: The $122 billion in direct funding will support safe school reopenings, help ensure that schools already providing in-person instruction can safely stay open and aid students in recovering from academic and mental health challenges induced and exacerbated by the pandemic. How these funds are distributed will shape the educational prospects of millions of students, affecting the country for decades to come. As they make rescue plan funding decisions, write contributors L. Earl Franks of the National Association of Elementary School Principals and Ronn Nozoe of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, states and districts should meaningfully engage and empower school principals throughout all phases of implementation. Principals, as leaders of their school buildings and staff, have unequaled insights into their individual schools’ needs and know which resources are required most urgently. Read the authors’ four recommendations for leveraging this expertise .
Case Studies: How 11 States Are Using Emergency Federal Funds to Make Improvements in College and Career Access That Will Endure Beyond the Pandemic
COVID Relief: The Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund gave states more than $4 billion in discretionary federal dollars to support K-12 schools, higher education and workforce initiatives. These were welcome resources, coming just as the pandemic accelerated unemployment and exacerbated declining college enrollment, hitting those from low-income backgrounds hardest. But as contributors Betheny Gross, Georgia Heyward and Matt Robinson note, most states have invested overwhelmingly in one-time college scholarships or short-term supports that will end once funds run out. In hopes of encouraging policymakers across the country to make more sustainable investments with the remaining relief funds, the trio spotlights efforts in 11 states that show promise in enduring beyond COVID-19. Read our full case study .
In Thousands of Districts, 4-Day School Weeks Are Robbing Students of Learning Time for What Amounts to Hygiene Theater
School Safety: Last April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made clear that having good ventilation and wearing masks consistently are far more effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19 than disinfecting surfaces. This clarification was long overdue, say contributors Robin Lake and Georgia Heyward of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, as scientists had long suspected that deep cleaning and temperature checks are more hygiene theater than a strategy for limiting the spread of an airborne virus. Thousands of school districts, however, had already built complex fall reopening plans with a full day for at-home learning. The result was a modified four-day week with students receiving significantly reduced live instruction. Eliminating a full day of in-person teaching was always a high-cost strategy from an education standpoint; now there is confirmation that it was totally unnecessary. Lake and Heyward argue that we cannot afford to throw away an entire day of learning and student support based on a false scientific premise .
Teacher’s View: How the Science of Reading Helped Me Make the Most of Limited Time With My Students & Adapt Lessons to Meet Their Needs
First Person: March 12, 2020, was contributor Jessica Pasik’s last typical day in the classroom before COVID-19 changed everything. When her district closed, she assumed, as did many, that it was a temporary precaution. But with each passing week, she worried that the growth in reading she and her first-graders had worked so hard for would fade away . Many pre-pandemic instructional approaches to teaching reading were already failing students and teachers, and the stress of COVID-19 has only exacerbated these challenges. When Pasik’s district reopened for in-person classes in the fall, they were faced with difficult decisions about how to best deliver instruction. One factor that helped streamline this transition was a grounding in the science of reading. Having extensive knowledge of what they needed to teach allowed educators to focus on how they would teach, make the most of the limited instructional time they had with students and adapt lessons to meet their needs. There are multiple factors that teachers cannot control; one person alone cannot make the systematic changes needed for all children to reach proficiency in literacy. But one knowledgeable teacher can forever change the trajectory of a student’s life. Students will face many challenges once they leave the classroom, but low literacy does not need to be one of them. Read her full essay .
Homeschooling Is on the Rise. What Should That Teach Education Leaders About Families’ Preferences?
Disenrollment: With school closures, student quarantines and tensions over mask requirements, vaccine mandates and culture war issues, families’ lives have been upended in ways few could have imagined 18 months ago. That schools have struggled to adapt is understandable, writes contributor Alex Spurrier. But for millions of families, their willingness to tolerate institutional sclerosis in their children’s education is wearing thin. Over the past 18 months, the rate of families moving their children to a new school increased by about 50 percent , and some 1.2 million switched to homeschooling last academic year. Instead of working to get schools back to a pre-pandemic normal, Spurrier says, education leaders should look at addressing the needs of underserved kids and families — and the best way to understand where schools are falling short is to look at how families are voting with their feet. If options like homeschooling, pods and microschools retain some of their pandemic enrollment gains, it could have ripple effects on funding that resonate throughout the K-12 landscape. Read the full essay .
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Original research article, resilience, reorientation, and reinvention: school leadership during the early months of the covid-19 pandemic.
- 1 Leadership for Educational Organizations, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO, United States
- 2 Cherry Creek School District, Greenwood Village, CO, United States
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread rapidly across the globe, many schools struggled to react both quickly and adequately. Schools were one of the most important societal institutions to be affected by the pandemic. However, most school leaders have little to no training in crisis leadership, nor have they dealt with a crisis of this scale and this scope for this long. This article presents our findings from interviews of 43 school organizations around the globe about their responses during the early months of the pandemic. Primary themes from the interviews included an emphasis on vision and values; communication and family community engagement; staff care, instructional leadership, and organizational capacity-building; equity-oriented leadership practices; and recognition of potential future opportunities. These findings resonate with the larger research literature on crisis leadership and have important implications for school leaders’ future mindsets, behaviors, and support structures during crisis incidents.
The news headlines became increasingly alarmist in the early months of 2020. In late January the New York Times asked, “Is the world ready for the coronavirus?” ( Editorial Board, 2020 ). A month later the Los Angeles Times headline read, “Coronavirus spread in United States is inevitable, CDC warns” ( Shalby, 2020 ). As the COVID-19 pandemic intensified, schools were forced to take notice. In a front-page article, the writers at Education Week noted that school districts were “likely to be on the front lines in efforts to limit [the virus’] impact” ( Superville, 2020 , p. 1).
By mid-March it was clear that the virus was going global. School systems across the planet began to close and the Washington Post headline read, “Coronavirus now a global pandemic as United States world scramble to control outbreak” ( Zezima et al., 2020 ). Early outbreaks in China and Italy led to drastic societal lockdowns in Southeast Asia and Europe. The rest of the world soon followed.
Most school systems were caught flatfooted, despite the fact that many locations had several months warning. School boards and administrators dithered about what to do. Government support for schools and families was ambiguous. Uncertainty reigned everywhere. The global pandemic spread rapidly and most schools struggled to react both quickly and adequately. Schools in the United States began to close in early March whether they were ready or not ( Lieberman, 2020 ) and several weeks later America faced “a school shutdown of historic proportions” ( Sawchuk, 2020 , p. 12). Today COVID-19 continues to spread across the planet, with many countries–including the United States–facing their worst rates of infection and death to date ( Schnirring, 2020 ). While some schools are fully open, others have closed again or have moved to remote instruction for nearly all of their students ( Gewertz and Sawchuk, 2020 ).
By now it is evident that the global pandemic has created an unprecedented challenge for school leaders. Although principals and superintendents are used to handling smaller crises such as fights in the hallway, a leaky boiler, irate parents, disagreements over budgetary choices, or even a scandal concerning a local educator, most school leaders have never dealt with a crisis of this scale and this scope for this long. Even the immediacy of larger crises that often force school closures–such as a large snowstorm, a hurricane, or a school shooting–typically expires after a few days or weeks. Like no other crisis before, the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the deficiencies of our educational systems and the lack of administrator preparation regarding crisis leadership. As the pandemic continues to stretch the outer limits of our individual and institutional resiliency, this article is an attempt to understand the responses of P-12 school leaders around the world during those first few critical months.
Review of the Literature
The literature base on crisis leadership has been broadly consistent for decades. Often drawn from the government, military, business, or health sectors, several key themes and leadership behaviors regularly emerge from the scholarly research. In the sections below, we briefly describe what we seem to know about leadership during crisis situations, both in education and across other societal sectors.
What Is Crisis Leadership?
Since crises occur regularly in the lives of organizations, several researchers have attempted to create conceptual models and sense-making frameworks to help leaders and institutions think about effective leadership during crisis events. Boin et al. (2013) created one of the most comprehensive crisis leadership frameworks. Noting that crisis episodes bring out instant “winners” and “losers” when it comes to leadership, they articulated ten key executive tasks that accompany successful crisis management. Initial tasks include early recognition of the crisis, sensemaking in conditions of uncertainty, and making critical decisions. Other tasks include vertical and horizontal coordination within the organization and across organizations, as well as coupling and decoupling systems as necessary. Other critical tasks include robust communication, helping others engage in meaning-making for others, and, finally, reflecting on and learning from the crisis and rendering accountability regarding what worked and what did not. The authors noted that the overall goal of a leader should be to increase organizational resilience before, during, and after a crisis (pp. 82–87). Each of these executive tasks has been unpacked in further detail in the scholarly literature and most of the elements in the framework from Boin, Kuipers, and Overdijk occur frequently in others’ conceptual models (see, e.g., Smith and Riley, 2012 ; Dückers et al., 2017 ).
As noted by Boin et al. (2013) , one of the most consistent elements of crisis leadership appears to be sensemaking in conditions of uncertainty. During a crisis, challenges arise quickly and both information and known solutions may be scarce. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the key challenges for school leaders were the unique nature of the crisis (i.e., most school organizations have not experienced a pandemic), the rapid timeline, and the accompanying uncertainty that hindered effective responses. Leaders’ experience mattered little when the COVID crisis had few “knowable components” ( Flin, 1996 ; Kahneman and Klein, 2009 ; Klein, 2009 ). Boin and Renaud (2013) articulated that joint sensemaking is “particularly important to effective crisis management: if decision makers do not have a shared and accurate picture of the situation, they cannot make informed decisions and communicate effectively with partners, politicians, and the public” (p. 41). Unfortunately for many school leaders during the first months of the pandemic, policymakers–and often the administrators above those leaders in the organizational hierarchy–often lacked an accurate picture of what was occurring, nor did they share what they knew with others in ways that enabled effective leadership responses and partnerships. Anecdotal stories abound of front-line educators and administrators struggling to get information and guidance during the pandemic’s first few months from those above them in the school system or from their local, state, and federal politicians.
Another consistent element of crisis leadership is effective communication, and numerous scholars have emphasized the leader’s role in communicating with both internal and external audiences. Marsen (2020) noted that crisis communication must deal with both issue management during the crisis and reputation management after the crisis. In their handbook on crisis communication, Heath and O’Hair (2020) emphasized that good communication is critically important because of the social nature of a leader’s work and because crisis management is inherently a collective activity. Effective communication builds trust and helps to create shared understandings and commitments across stakeholders ( Lucero et al., 2009 ). During times of crisis, effective leaders engage in holding , which means that they are containing and interpreting what is happening during a time of uncertainty. As Petriglieri (2020) noted:
Containing refers to the ability to soothe distress and interpreting to the ability to help others make sense of a confusing predicament… [Leaders] think clearly, offer reassurance, orient people, and help them stick together. That work is as important as inspiring others. In fact, it is a precondition for doing so.
Another important finding regarding crisis leadership is that what constitutes effective leadership often changes over the time span of the crisis ( Hannah et al., 2009 ). As conditions shift and new needs emerge, leaders must be flexible and adaptive ( Smith and Riley, 2012 ). During the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, most school leaders progressed through several key response phases ( McLeod, 2020b ). Phase 1 represented a focus on basic needs and included feeding children and families, ensuring student access to computing devices and the Internet, and checking in on families’ wellbeing. During Phase 2, administrators reoriented their schools to deliver instruction remotely. This work included training teachers in new pedagogies and technologies, as well as establishing instructional routines and digital platforms to facilitate online learning. Once schools began to settle into new routines, leaders then could begin paying attention to richer, deeper learning opportunities for students (Phase 3) and look ahead to future opportunities and help their organizations be better prepared for future dislocations of schooling (Phase 4). This latter phase is what many scholars have identified as a reconstruction ( Boin and Hart, 2003 ) or adaptive Prewitt et al., 2011 ) stage of crisis leadership (see also Coombs, 2000 ; Heath, 2004 ; Jaques, 2009 ; Smith and Riley, 2012 ).
Finally, some researchers have noted the importance of leaders’ attention to social and emotional concerns during a crisis (see, e.g., Meisler et al., 2013 ). After finding that “the psychosocial dimension of crises has received little attention in crisis management literature” (p. 95), Dückers et al. (2017) created a conceptual model of psychosocial crisis management that emphasized such leadership and organizational tasks as “providing information and basic aid” and “promoting a sense of safety, calming, self- and community efficacy, connectedness to others, and hope” (p. 101). The authors noted that effective crisis leadership involves more than effective communication and response coordination and also must attend to the general wellbeing and health of employees and other stakeholders.
Crisis Leadership in Schools
The literature cited here from other contexts also is applicable to school systems. During a crisis, school leaders–like their counterparts in other institutions–must engage in effective communication, facilitate sensemaking in conditions of uncertainty, be flexible and adaptive, and pay attention to the emotional wellbeing and health of employees. The executive tasks described by Boin et al. (2013) are relevant for school organizations and their leaders, just as they are in other societal sectors. In addition to the more generalized research base, some crisis leadership research has been conducted on school settings specifically. For instance, Smith and Riley (2012) recognized that school administrators’ crisis leadership is very different from that necessary to be successful in a more “normal” school environment. They also noted that critical attributes of effective crisis leadership in schools include:
The ability to cope with–and thrive on–ambiguity; a strong capacity to think laterally; a willingness to question events in new and insightful ways; a preparedness to respond flexibly and quickly, and to change direction rapidly if required; an ability to work with and through people to achieve critical outcomes; the tenacity to persevere when all seems to be lost; and a willingness to take necessary risks and to “break the rules” when necessary (p. 65).
In a study of school principals’ actions after the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, Mutch (2015b) articulated a three-factor conceptual model of school crisis leadership. The first factor was dispositional and included school leaders’ values, belief systems, personality traits, skills, and areas of expertise. The second factor was relational and included leaders’ visioning work as well as fostering collaboration, building trust, enabling empowerment, and building a sense of community. The final factor was situational , which included understanding both the past and immediate contexts, adapting to changing needs, thinking creatively, and providing direction for the organization. In her case studies of four elementary schools, Mutch identified specific leadership actions that fell under each of these factors. In a separate article that same year, Mutch (2015a) noted that schools with an inclusive culture and with strong relationships beforehand are better situated to manage crises that may occur.
Many researchers have noted the importance of maintaining trust during a crisis (see, e.g., Mutch, 2015a ; Dückers et al., 2017 ). Sutherland (2017) examined leadership behaviors in light of a school crisis caused by the accidental deaths of two students on a service-learning trip. Utilizing Tschannen-Moran and Hoy’s (2000) model of trust in schools, Sutherland found that closely held, non-consultative decision-making by top executives eroded the school’s ability to communicate effectively and thus hindered trust in the larger school community. He also found that subsequent implementation of new communication structures fostered better collaboration and rebuilt trust with educators and families. Sutherland’s findings are relevant for school leaders who have struggled to balance often-conflicting parent and educator expectations during the pandemic and thus have seen community trust erode as a result.
Mahfouz et al. (2019) studied Lebanese principals and schools as they responded to the international Syrian refugee crisis. They noted that “instead of focusing on leadership and academic performance, principals [faced with a large influx of Syrian refugee families spent] most of their time “putting out fires,” resolving urgent issues, and attending to basic needs that typically are taken for granted in other schools” (p. 24). Those challenges resemble the lived experiences of many principals and superintendents during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Crisis Leadership in Schools During the Pandemic
Some very recent publications have attempted to apply principles of crisis leadership to the COVID-19 pandemic in non-educational sectors. For instance, Pearce et al. (2021) employed leadership concepts from the military to the global pandemic, identifying some “key components of mission command” as unity of effort, freedom of action, trust, and rapid decision making (pp. 1–2). These leadership concepts are similar to a list identified for public health officials several years ago, which also emphasized trust, decisiveness with flexibility, and the ability to coordinate diverse stakeholders ( Deitchman, 2013 ).
Contemporary research on leadership in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to emerge as well. Although it is still relatively early to make sense of schools’ responses to the pandemic, scholars are beginning to try to understand the early phases of the crisis. Much of this work has been theoretical or conceptual, however, rather than empirical. For instance, Bagwell (2020) noted that the pandemic “is rapidly redefining schooling and leadership” (p. 31) and advocated for leaders to lead adaptively, build organizational and individual resilience, and create distributed leadership structures for optimal institutional response. Likewise, Netolicky (2020) noted many of the tensions that school leaders are facing during the pandemic. These tensions range from the need to lead both fast and slow, to balancing equity with excellence and accountability, to considering both human needs and organizational outcomes.
During the pandemic, Fernandez and Shaw (2020) recommended that academic leaders focus on best practices, try to see opportunities in the crisis, communicate clearly, connect with others, and distribute leadership within the organization. Harris and Jones (2020) offered seven propositions for consideration and potential research attention, including the ideas that “most school leadership preparation and training programs… are likely to be out of step with the challenges facing school leaders today” and that “self-care and consideration must be the main priority and prime concerns for all school leaders” (p. 245). They also recognized that “crisis and change management are now essential skills of a school leader… [that] require more than routine problem solving or occasional firefighting” (p. 246).
In one of the few empirical studies to emerge so far on pandemic-era school leadership, Rigby et al. (2020) identified three promising practices for P-12 school systems: treating families as equal partners in learning, continuing to provide high-quality learning opportunities for students, and decision-making that is coordinated, coherent, and inclusive. Through their interviews of thirteen central office leaders in the Puget Sound area of Washington, they also made three recommendations, which were for school districts to focus on “building on” not “learning loss,” to prioritize relationships, and to create anti-racist, systemic coherence (p. 6). Regarding their first recommendation, they noted that “this is an opportunity to design systems to understand and build on what children learned (and continue to learn) at home” (p. 6).
As the pandemic progresses, there is a clear need for more empirical research on the effects of COVID-19 on schools and other institutions. Educational scholars and school leaders need evidence from the field to inform the theoretical and conceptual approaches that have dominated during the first months of the global crisis.
The exploratory research in this study involved interviews with school leaders from across the United States and in nine other countries. The interview series was not originally conceived as a research study. Instead, it originated as a series of informal recorded conversations that were dubbed the Coronavirus Chronicles and posted on the blog of one of the authors ( McLeod, 2020a ). Participants gave consent prior to their interviews to make their conversations public in this manner. A YouTube channel was created to host the videos. The interviews also were posted as audio recordings on several podcast hosting services, including Apple, Spotify, and SoundCloud. All interviews were publicized through the blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media channels. The goal was to make the interviews accessible to other school leaders who might find them informative and to make the interview series subscribable for those who wished to receive regular updates. As the number of interviews grew, we began to receive requests to identify larger themes that cut across the conversations and to delineate specific leadership behaviors that seemed to be useful during the crisis. We agreed that might be helpful to others and received permission from the Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board to begin thinking about these interviews as a qualitative research study.
Because of the organic evolution of this project, the participants for this study were selected through convenience sampling. Convenience sampling is “a type of non-probability sampling in which people are sampled simply because they are “convenient” sources of data for researchers” ( Lavrakas, 2008 ). Convenience sampling was employed in this study for several reasons. Because the global pandemic was a particularly stressful event for schools and their administrators, the earliest interviewees were chosen based on personal connections and school leaders’ resultant willingness to make time for a conversation. As visibility of the Coronavirus Chronicles interview series grew, we also began to receive requests from others to participate. The blog posts that accompanied each new interview solicited viewers and listeners to participate in the series if they were interested and multiple school leaders took us up on that offer. At times we purposefully extended invitations to certain schools. For instance, we invited a series of international schools in order to get a spread of perspectives across multiple continents. We also invited several project- and inquiry-based learning schools to share their experiences, which we thought might be different from more traditional school systems. Accordingly, the results of this study may not be generalizable to other schools or school leaders, and care should be taken when interpreting our participants’ responses. Nonetheless, we believe that the information provided by the school leaders who participated in this interview series has value for other educational administrators, particularly as they consider their own leadership behaviors and support structures during this worldwide crisis.
We interviewed a total of 55 educators from 43 school organizations. Eleven of those institutions were international schools and the other 32 schools, districts, and educational programs were based in the United States. Three different schools in China were selected because the COVID-19 virus appeared to originate there, schools in that country were the first in the world to close down, and we thought that their early responses would be informative to schools in other countries for whom the virus was just starting to influence decision-making. We made some attempt to loosely sample a cross section of America, and we eventually talked with school leaders in 21 different states. Most of our interviewees were principals, superintendents, or central office administrators. A few were teachers or instructional coaches.
All interviews were conducted using the Zoom videoconferencing software platform and were scheduled at times convenient for all participants. The intent of the interviews was to gain an understanding of how interviewees’ school organizations were responding during the early months of the global pandemic. As Kvale (1996) noted, personal interviews are a particularly powerful method for “studying people’s understanding of the meaning in their lived world” (p. 105). We were particularly interested in hearing about what learning and teaching looked like in participants’ schools as they shifted into remote instructional modalities. We also asked these school leaders to describe the decisions made by their leadership teams that seemed to work well during this difficult time, and they told us about some of the challenges and opportunities that they foresaw in the months to come. Additionally, many of the interviewees shared with us their immediate personal and institutional responses in the earliest days and weeks surrounding the closure of their schools.
We utilized a semi-structured approach for the qualitative interviews in this study ( Yin, 2011 ). First, the relationships between ourselves and our interviewees were not strictly scripted. The interviews had a few standard questions but the wording of the questions, the wording of the follow-up questions, and the order in which the questions were asked varied according to the flow of each discussion. Second, the interviews were conducted informally rather than in a scripted style, allowing each interview to be personalized and to provide a more casual dialogue between subject and interviewer. Third, we primarily asked open-ended questions so that participants would offer more rich detail in their responses. Interviews lasted from 9 to 20 min and were intentionally kept short so that episodes might fit more easily within participants’, viewers’, and listeners’ busy work lives.
All interviews were transcribed using NoNotes, a secure third-party transcription service. Corrections were made to the transcriptions as necessary. We determined an initial set of codes through ongoing, open, inductive coding. We then engaged in selective coding to validate the relationships between themes against the data. Through this process, the initial set of codes and subcodes were refined and expanded based on the data set. Coding was conducted both jointly and individually. However, we reviewed each others’ coding and collaborated on the coding scheme until consensus was reached.
Although there were a few common, open-ended questions to spark discussion, conversations with our 55 participants ranged widely. In the sections below, we describe the main themes that emerged from our coding and analysis of the 43 Coronavirus Chronicles interviews. Our participants shared with us that centering their crisis leadership work around the school’s vision, leaning on individual and institutional values, and deploying robust communication and family engagement strategies were all critically important. Our interviewees also were deeply engaged in attempts to care for staff and build their capacity through instructional leadership and professional learning activities. The schools leaders who we interviewed approached their work during the early months of the pandemic with a strong equity lens, and many of them saw the potential emergence of future organizational opportunities despite their present challenges and struggles.
Vision and Values
When faced with a true crisis, a strong organizational vision founded on clear values enables school leaders to respond in intentional and highly effective ways. The critical importance of these foundational structures cannot be overstated. Successful outcomes of responsive decisions made during critical moments of a crisis depend on the strength and clarity of a school organization’s underlying values and vision. As noted in the research literature on crisis leadership, leading from a strong organizational vision and institutional values facilitates administrators’ sensemaking in conditions of uncertainty, guides critical decisions, enables coherent communication, and helps school leaders engage others in shared meaning-making ( Boin et al., 2013 ).
For example, the school district administrators that we interviewed from Bismarck, North Dakota told us that they knew they needed to approach their response to the COVID-19 crisis with careful and intentional planning, citing “the old African proverb if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go slow and go together.” These administrators and their teams took time to identify a “coherent, long-term plan of how [they] would like to approach the work for distance learning.” Organizational decision-making frameworks based on their values guided district- and school-level leadership teams as they moved forward with their response plans.
Tanna, a director of technology innovation, stated that time and identification of core values were critical as she identified the importance of relationships:
[R]eally taking some time to think about what are the core principles and different pieces of this? What are the… frames that we run decisions through? So that’s been tremendously helpful as you get more and more variables and other decisions that you’re making just to be calibrated on what do we really care about? And so, I think we… really tapped into what the Chinese schools… had been doing… being very vulnerable and being willing to share… I’ve been so grateful for the sharing and the generosity of educators around the world sharing things, and people have been very open and asking questions.
As educators around the world empathized with one another, there also was universal adherence to the value of empathy for students and families. Empathy drove immediate action focused on basic student and family needs such as providing food pickup and delivery. Gerald, a middle school principal, captured the breadth of his school’s empathetic approach: “We did take some time in the beginning to recognize that we care about relationships. That’s staff relationships and student and family relationships.”
Other core values surfaced early in the crisis response process for many schools. In addition to identifying the importance of relationships as they framed their planning and decision-making processes, our participants identified connectivity, collective wisdom, collaboration, empathy, adaptation, and risk-taking as values that drove their responses to the pandemic.
The importance of maintaining and strengthening relationships and connectivity between students and teachers, administrators and teachers, and administrators, teachers and families, became a clear first priority for many educational institutions. Relationships and connectivity resonate throughout educational settings because these values form the foundation of strong school communities and student success. As stated succinctly by Mary Beth, a director of educational technology, “we know those relationships are key to students feeling connected and successful.” Moreover, by identifying these values, the door to reimagining education in a remote setting opened up a little. Shannon, an English teacher in Amsterdam, shared her excitement about the evolution of this process:
We’ve talked a lot about community building and how to build a community in this virtual world and stay connected, and then I think in terms of teachers… really thinking that we can’t teach in the same way. So how are we going to reimagine our teaching practice? So I think a lot of us that wanted to do like a flipped classroom, but never found the time or wanted to set up Google Groups or Meets or whatever, well, we have time now, we have to do that… and I keep thinking that even though this has been really stressful time for educators and students and parents, there’s some really nice things that have come out of this… to reimagine the way we do things.
While establishing a clear focus on relationships and community connection came quickly to many organizations, the inextricably linked values of collective wisdom and collaboration also brought directional clarity into view. Ben, an assistant superintendent, recognized early on in the crisis that “there is a lot of collective wisdom not only across [the] district, but through everyone’s personal learning network.” Aaron, a head of school, echoed the important contributions of the broader educational community when he acknowledged that his institution “benefited from having a strong network of schools, locally and nationally, that we could bounce ideas off of, [and] like any good teacher, steal ideas [from] and make them our own.”
Accessing the collective wisdom of the educational community also permeated the international community. International schools in particular benefited from their global network. John, an international school deputy principal, approached the international educational community with vulnerability and deep gratitude:
We have a very rich, professional learning network amongst the international schools. [I]t’s about being patient, being kind to others and to yourself, and recognizing that in this chaos there’s a lot of really good things that can happen and we have to keep our most vulnerable a hundred percent in the forefront of our minds. If there’s any way we can take this and put more resources and more support for our most vulnerable learners, then the results are going to be good and that has to be our priority.
Ultimately, all of the values-based crisis responses could only occur if leaders modeled and encouraged adaptive practices and risk-taking solutions. Jori, a dean of students, explained:
I think what we’re finding is we’re learning something new every day and that it’s okay. Just like we tell our students that we’re looking for growth over time and it’s not always just about the end product, it’s growth over time for us and we are trying new things. Daily, I get emails from teachers or a phone call, “Hey, I found this, I’m going to try it with my students.” The answer is always, “Yes, please. Try something new.” Take risks, which are another thing that we’re asking our kids to do, we’re asking our staff to do, too.
The power of a values-driven approach to crisis management clearly resonated with our participants. This approach resulted in actionable responses to the COVID-19 pandemic that were founded on the values of relationship, connectivity, collective wisdom, collaboration, empathy, and adaptive risk-taking.
Communication and Family Community Engagement
The need for all educational organizations to communicate effectively with their stakeholders became paramount as the global pandemic forced every institution into remote learning. As expected from the research literature (see, e.g., Lucero et al., 2009 ; Boin et al., 2013 ; Heath and O’Hair, 2020 ), the leaders who we interviewed recognized instantly that communication in all forms was a critical component of navigating the rapidly changing uncertainty that they faced.
In the initial stages of the COVID-19 crisis response, educational leaders identified the need for frequent, often daily communication with teachers, students and parents. Communication came from every level of educational organizations immediately. Cory, a superintendent, wrote an update for his entire district every day and even led a parade through every community in the district to launch his communication efforts:
I write a daily memo to our entire district every day. And about three quarters of it is positivity. I highlight things our kids are doing that teachers put in and say, “Hey, these kids handed all their work, and I put that on the memo.” And I highlight positive emails parents send us. We have been flooded with positivity from them. We’ve had to approach a couple things differently… We held a parade. And because we basically serve eight communities, I’m afraid it was 75 miles long and four and a half hours long, and we drove in every community.
Many school leaders also created daily lines of communication with teachers, students, and parents. Danny, an international middle school principal, ensured connection across the entire community by communicating with everyone on a daily basis:
The other key piece that we do is we communicate with the parents. Every single day a letter from me. It’s actually an Adobe Spark note with a short opening from me and then it has pictures of student work they submit during the day. We have our school spirit theme weeks. So every single day something goes home to all the parents, all the students, [and] all the teachers that is a message from me: here’s how we’re doing, here’s where we are, here’s where we’re going, and then it celebrates student work, it celebrates the teacher’s work, there are video clips, and it just connects everyone back to school and parents and kids.
Phone calls became one of the most important initial methods of reaching out to students and families. The personal nature of voice-to-voice connection became an essential component of the difficult transition to remote learning. Gerald, a middle school principal, emphasized “that all communications with home had to be through the home room teacher” to maintain close connections between students and teachers. That investment in maintaining those connections paid “huge dividends” as remote learning began, although it took quite a toll on teachers due to initial phone calls often lasting for hours as teachers comforted and reassured frightened parents and families.
Structures and systems of communication that existed prior to the pandemic were relied upon heavily to ensure that meaningful connections were maintained. Office hours, regular class meetings, and daily or weekly student check-ins became the official norm for many schools. As clearly stated by Jeff, a department chair, the “number one priority going forward to the end of the school year [is] getting a hold of every student we can and then making sure that we’re regularly staying in contact.”
The importance of feedback in a school’s communication strategy was recognized as a critical component of managing the challenges of remote learning. Mary Beth, a director of educational technology, shared that “we’re listening regularly to our parents, we’re listening to our teachers, and we’re listening to our students.” Feedback in the form of parent and student surveys were important to Cory, a superintendent:
You let people share. You connect with them relationship-wise… we survey our parents and kids every other week. Every teacher surveys them. We grab that information and then we look at it. We make small adjustments. Our educators have been fantastic about really meeting the needs of parents… [and] kids.”
Communication at all levels and between all stakeholders was enhanced by the use of technological tools. Tanna, a director of technology innovation, relayed the early discussions about the tools necessary for supporting clear communication and learning:
So from a technology standpoint, we spent most of the first week that we knew about this [pandemic] really promoting and talking about the communication and the connectivity tools that we have… in a digital environment. And to and from us and families, and setting that up. and helping people practice with those tools. Because without that, we can’t really advance the distance learning pieces.
These communication tools included district learning management systems such as Google Classroom, Schoology, and Canvas; collaboration tools such as Seesaw, Microsoft Teams, and Google Apps for Education; videoconferencing tools such as Zoom and Google Meet; social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok; and many others. While a plethora of digital tools were available to almost everyone, the majority of schools chose to focus on using tools that were familiar to staff in order to, as Shameka, a high school principal said, reduce family confusion and make it “so much easier for us to communicate.”
The importance of clear, constant, and effective communication was universally recognized by all school leaders as an essential component to a successful transition to remote learning. Establishing and maintaining clear channels of communication became a universal goal of the educational leaders whom we interviewed.
Staff Care, Instructional Leadership, and Organizational Capacity-Building
As the pandemic crisis manifested, educational leaders around the globe quickly identified the importance of taking care of the needs of their staff. Jeff, the chief administrator for a regional educational service agency, spoke for many when he stated, “our first and foremost priority was making sure our own people [were] okay.” Knowing that building capacity would come later, many school leaders approached their staff with an eye for compassion and grace rather than compliance. Glenn, a superintendent, said that his district’s primary ask of staff members was, “What can we do for you?” These leadership approaches align tightly with the research that underscores the importance of leaders’ attention to social and emotional concerns during a crisis (see, e.g., Meisler et al., 2013 ; Dückers et al., 2017 ).
As people in organizations began to come together, the need for connection among staff members became paramount. Virtual time for connection through general staff meetings where celebrations and challenges were shared became commonplace. In addition, creative virtual social activities began to emerge as a stand-in for informal, face-to-face interactions and a way to maintain relationships and connection. Humor was highly valued, as demonstrated by the staff challenge at Shameka’s high school. The competition was fierce around which educators had the most toilet paper in their homes (in light of a national, never-understood panic run on the commodity). Shameka’s school also hosted open discussion hours for staff, which often diverged into lighthearted but energetic conversations about topics such as “What is the best flavor of ramen noodles?” These staff bonding events solidified the ties between educators and created strong foundations upon which instructional capacity could be built.
Attention to mindset, fluid roles and expectations, responsive professional development, and efficiency and prioritization of structures and systems all formed the basis of our participants’ efforts to build, sustain, and strengthen capacity across their organizations. Setting the stage for capacity building began with clarifying and embracing a mindset of acceptance and support. Dan, a director of learning innovation, described this important component:
[G]race and flexibility, and I think that goes all the way around. Teachers toward their students, students toward their teachers, parents toward the school community, and… our administrators… they’ll come back to that grace and flexibility as far as what happens with kids, and teachers in their new virtual environments, knowing that it’s not going to be perfect. And we always, in the tech world, we always talk about risk, right? We take these risks, and now people are being forced to do that. Because some type of people didn’t maybe necessarily before, now you’re being forced to do that and be okay with it. Reflect, change what happens tomorrow if it didn’t work out right. If it worked out, great, do it again, right? So, grace and flexibility.
After recognizing the importance of infusing capacity-building with grace and flexibility, leaders began creating specific supports for teachers, including an “all hands on deck approach” to staffing and responsive professional development. Tanna, a director of technology innovation, summed up this part of the process when she stated, “It’s about helping all teachers be able to feel comfortable and be vulnerable as learners.”
At many of our interviewees’ schools, all non-teaching staff members were leveraged to help create supports for students, thereby increasing teachers’ capacity to focus on instructional practices. Bus drivers, cafeteria managers, and librarians were among the many who joined forces to create support structures. During a planned meal pickup event, Andrea, a superintendent, said that her librarians found a creative way to support students:
Yesterday at our meal pickup we had our librarians, two librarians, who had pulled a bunch of books out of their libraries that students could check out on the curb. I would say the creativity is just fantastic.
With staff and student supports in place, professional development became a key strategic component for building teacher capacity. Jeff, the chief administrator for a regional educational service agency, recognized the unique opportunity presented by the crisis, noting that, “we have some time now that internal staff could do some learning that maybe we’ve been wanting to do all year long and just never have that extra time.”
Training on technological tools dominated professional learning early in the pandemic. For example, one school district in Colorado offered 25 training sessions on Google Classroom the day before the district went live with remote learning. The critical importance of this type of training, especially for teachers without these skills, became obvious. As Dan, a director of learning and innovation, shared:
We do have a… we’ll call it an opt-in sort of PD model for most things, technology being one of those. And there are a handful of teachers who are struggling right now because they [had previously] opted out. They are more traditional teachers… we’ve had our beginner Google Classroom sessions where we’re full of those people… but not as many from some friends I have in other districts who say they’ve never used Google Classroom.
Over time, professional learning at many of our interviewees’ institutions expanded from an almost-pure technology focus to include mental health, trauma, social-emotional learning, and–as time went on and teacher capacity grew–virtual instructional strategies. Jeff, a high school principal, summed up the experience of staff learning:
This is the best real life, real-time professional development… there is a constant feedback loop. This is what we’re trying and is this going to work or is that going to work? We’re getting a lot of information. At some point when the world stops spinning we’ll have to sit down and take everything we’ve learned and think about how we’re moving forward.
Maximizing efficiency of prioritized structures and systems was another area of focus for instructional capacity building. Simplicity and familiarity were embraced when it came to selecting learning management systems, and this paid off for many organizations. As Dave, a director of technology integration, noted:
What’s working well is that we’re trying to keep everything really super simple and keep tools that are familiar. So we’ve started with strengths, started with what the students are familiar with, so, getting a simple learning management system, making sure that it’s either Google Classroom or Seesaw. So, things that teachers are familiar with and they can support each other…
At many schools, schedules also were simplified in an effort to “stave off distance-learning fatigue,” as Danny, an international middle school principal, said. Staggered schedules with built-in flexibility allowed students and teachers to connect when needed during synchronous time. Options during asynchronous time allowed for necessities like individual or small group check-ins and work delivery times, as well as opportunities for students to reconnect with teachers as needed. Blair, an international secondary school principal, expressed his satisfaction by stating, “I think that we ended the year really well with a solid structure that allowed for both flexibility as well as enough structure to support students well.”
Many of our participants’ school systems also made decisions to increase instructional capacity by prioritizing essential standards. Mike, a director of curriculum and technology, astutely pointed out the issues that had to be addressed, noting that, “we are not going to be able to do everything. so what are the most important things for our learners?” As Melissa, a high school principal shared with us, prioritization of standards fostered new learning opportunities for students, robust staff conversations, and collaborative efforts about how to best garner available resources, including curriculum, to meet targeted learning goals.
Educators at one of our participating international schools created online “learning grids” to effectively accomplish this task. Don, an assistant head of school, explained that these grids were “user-friendly formats that really scripted what we needed kids to do and then what we’re requiring teachers to do.” This creative solution increased school capacity and facilitated easier school-to-home connections:
So it was a new way of collaborating for our teachers who… in a normal school… have a little bit more say in how they approach each of the learning standards that… they’re trying to reach. So that was a bit of learning as well to figure out how that collaboration would work. But it’s worked out really well and it certainly has simplified life, I think, for teachers as well. And it has freed them up to do more things… so that we could be sure that the basic resources are being shared and the standards are all being met through these learning grids.
Finally, as Sean, a digital specialist, described, attention could turn from emergency responsiveness to aspirational responsiveness as teacher capacity was built:
I think we have our aspirational goals and then we have the reality of the pandemic and the emergency happening. We’re starting to see some of those aspirational pieces take off as far as how content is designed and delivered. Our teachers are becoming a lot more confident in their ability to do this online, beginning to understand the routines that are useful for them as teachers and then routines for the students, and there’s a lot of feedback from our teachers going on about that.
The power of teacher collaboration, coupled with the familiarity of emerging routines and recognizable successes, empowered teachers at many of our participating schools. Best practices in brick-and-mortar settings often proved to be best practices in the virtual classroom. Small group and individualized instruction was critical, student-led project-based learning correlated with high engagement, and greater student agency equated with greater student success. This was particularly true in some of the schools that we interviewed which had project- and inquiry-based learning structures in place.
Ultimately, leaders who built capacity through attention to mindset, embraced fluid roles and expectations, facilitated responsive professional development, and prioritized efficient structures and systems were able to create environments for teachers to reach students in meaningful ways and increase engagement in virtual settings. As the initial crisis moved into a sustained “new normal,” organizations began finding ways to move from their initial state of emergency to a state of best practices.
Across the globe, issues of educational access and digital equity were thrust into the forefront as schools scrambled to provide access to remote education platforms. Equity requires that every student be supported with the resources necessary to successfully access what is needed to learn and thrive in an educational setting. As the pandemic took hold, it became clear that access to food and mental health supports initially needed to take priority over access to instruction. Our school leaders’ emphasis on–and quick investments in–basic needs, social-emotional health, and technological access are underscored by the research literature’s recognition of these stabilizing aspects of crisis leadership (see, e.g., Smith and Riley, 2012 ; Mutch, 2015b ; Dückers et al., 2017 ; Mahfouz et al., 2019 ; McLeod, 2020b ).
Since access to at-school free meal programs was severed, feeding students in the community became paramount for many of our school leaders. Jim, a chief executive officer of a charter school, described the situation faced by so many schools:
We have about 98% of our kids on free and reduced-price lunch programs. So, you know, when we first got the information around the closure, our first instincts were to make sure we were feeding our kids–the most basic fundamental expectation of survival. And we were able to launch that in about 2 weeks. We started with the daily drive-thru, and then we’ve been able to move that to once a week, so we can supply 7 days worth of food to all of our families. We have a pre-heated meal system with distribution of food and gallons of milk every week. It’s going really well. We have about a 100% participation rate, almost everyone participates. We accept anyone under the age of 18 to come to our drive thru and pick up food, so it doesn’t even matter if they’re part of our school system or not.
Meeting families’ primary needs required school communities to adapt quickly and often. Glenn, a superintendent, shared:
As far as food services, we provide food twice a week, our communities are roughly about 45% free and reduced lunch. So, one of the biggest things that we are focusing on is the health and well-being of those families as well. So we constantly put out phone calls saying, “Hey, if you recently lost your job and or you think you’re now eligible, please sign up,” and we can go through that paperwork with them.
Mental health supports also were considered as the overall health and wellbeing of students and families was prioritized. Kristina, a principal, noted that “we really need to focus on the heart, on overall well-being and mental healthiness and physical healthiness.” Looking to the future, Kristina also expressed her grave concerns “about everyone’s mental health as this continues.”
After addressing students’ basic health needs, issues of instructional equity quickly came into focus. Nancy, a principal of an elementary International Baccalaureate school, summed up the issues faced by so many:
We had a lot of problems in the beginning getting kids on [the Internet]. The Internet wasn’t working correctly. They didn’t understand [how to use a] hotspot. Their iPad locked up, they couldn’t remember their password… We did a lot with our interpreters getting kids and families logged on… We called them. I was going to kid’s houses: “Why can’t you get on, let me help you?” You bring food, you bring whatever, because a lot of them were really scared when I came by. They [thought] because they weren’t online, [that I was there for] attendance but, no, I was there to help them.
Even for schools that had heavily invested in technology before the pandemic, issues of digital equity and data privilege quickly became a pressing concern. Shameka, a high school principal, explained:
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the concerns around digital equity because we still have to champion that. Just because a kid has access they don’t necessarily always have the digital capital necessary to engage in a way that is authentic… just because the kid has a phone doesn’t mean that they live in a place of data privilege. I have not had [a fixed set of] minutes on my phone or had to worry about data in years. I’m on an unlimited plan but when thinking about kids submitting assignments and families who share data… we live in a place of data privilege. And we have to recognize in that vein of digital equity [that] access is one thing, but not really… You don’t have access for real.
Again and again, school leaders discussed Internet access as one of the biggest hurdles students faced after moving to remote learning. Because access could not be assumed even when students had or were provided with devices, innovative and practical, equitable solutions were required. Aaron, a middle school assistant principal, discussed the need to use paper packets when it was understood that families, “had too many kids in the house, so that even if they had pretty decent Internet coverage, if three kids are connected at once, it certainly couldn’t stand up to that.” Dave, a director of technology integration, concurred by stating, “We’re learning about families who may not have the access that we thought they did.” In addition to the Internet access hurdles faced by so many students, the ability of schools to continue to support devices also quickly surfaced. Dave noted, “I think the challenges now are helping to manage and support those devices virtually, making sure that we know that everybody has what they need, [and] finding out where those gaps exist.”
Unsurprisingly, issues of equity persisted during the global pandemic crisis. Even if basic student needs for food were met, mental health supports and digital resources often were woefully inadequate. Many schools still have not been able to ensure that students’ overall well-being is adequately supported. Hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of students still cannot access instruction remotely. Educational access and equity issues that existed beforehand often seemed insurmountable during the early months of the pandemic. Educational equity for all students has never been a reality and now has slipped even further away for millions of students. Despite the enormity of the challenges, the school leaders we interviewed continued to strive to support students to the greatest extent possible.
Silver Linings and Future Opportunities
Despite the enormity of the challenges that COVID-19 has thrust upon P-12 educational systems, many of our interviewees felt that some “silver linings,” or unexpected positive outcomes, had begun to emerge, even during the first few months, that would lead to future opportunities for students and staff. These possibilities for change spurred excitement, even during this challenging time period for schools. Jeremy, a superintendent, acknowledged the call to action for all educational communities:
I think if we come out of this experience and fall back on traditional ways of doing things, shame on us. We cannot unlearn what we are learning right now. If anything, the silver lining here is that… that is pretty exciting to think about what could be. I know our teachers and students, and families are living that alongside us. That is probably one of the highlights we have seen.
Jeff, the chief administrator for a regional educational service agency, noted that the global pandemic and the concurrent changes in school structures and activities have given everyone the permission to “think about the future of education,” and to question the status quo . Changes in almost every area of education are being considered, including new commitments to the collective wisdom of the educational community, new structures of family engagement, expansive integration of technology, the creation of new resources, and, most importantly, a new appreciation and recognition of student voice and self-directed agency. Past research indicates that organizational reorientations are common as crises begin to settle down and leaders have the opportunity to reflect on the future of their institutions (see, e.g., Coombs, 2000 ; Boin and Hart, 2003 ; Heath, 2004 ; Jaques, 2009 ; Smith and Riley, 2012 ).
The school leaders that we interviewed had a renewed recognition of–and appreciation for–the importance of the collective wisdom of the educational community. Mike, a director of curriculum and technology, described his experience:
I think there are some really good positives that have come from this experience… there is a lot of sharing going on and reconnecting with our personal learning networks has been fantastic… People are talking and sharing at a rapid pace so that there is a lot of crowdsourcing around that information. I think that has been really helpful.
The importance of connections between educators, and the opportunities created by those connections, cannot be overstated. Kristina, a principal, summed it up when she said, “If this [pandemic] has done nothing else, [it has shown us that] we need to work together in a connected world and leverage our shared brilliance, our shared experience.”
Another silver lining from the pandemic appears to have been the explosion of better technology integration across educational systems. Aaron, a middle school assistant principal, recognized that educational communities have been thrust into a non-negotiable “technological immersion course”:
I think it has just upped our technology. You hear it all the time where, hey, if you want to learn a foreign language, go to that country and live there for 6 weeks. Well, if you want to learn online education… I wouldn’t want a pandemic. But certainly getting dropped into a situation where you have to do it for X number of weeks has just raised everyone’s level astronomically, and it forces you to ask questions. You come up against that reality. You have to troubleshoot things… And I think those things can carry forward…
Many of our interviewees said that they planned on carrying forward the creation of virtual resources for students and staff. While the availability of these resources is not new, the broad-based implementation and long-overdue recognition of the availability and potential benefits of these resources is a significant change for many educators.
The most-widely recognized silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic is arguably the collective recognition of the power of community and the accompanying importance of valuing the voices of all community members, especially parents and students. Learning has become more visible to everyone. This increased transparency and visibility has the potential to change the face of education going forward. Mark, a director of an international school, said:
I think that the learning for all of our community members was so much more visible. Parents were part of the learning experience. Students were definitely advocates and agents in their own learning. And teachers, in order to deliver experiences, they had to be able to communicate much more actively with different groups… And I think the more that we can make our experiences visible and include the community members in those experiences, I think that that’s something that we can bring back to the on-campus instruction and try and support through a continued partnership to support our students.
Cory, a superintendent, noted that parents are seeing and experiencing more of “what their kids are doing in school than ever before” and, in turn, as educators have committed themselves to a new level of family engagement, they are seeing sides of their students previously unrecognized. He went on to state that remote learning has given students more voice and agency as they have been provided with opportunities to show their learning in new ways.
Students at many of the schools we interviewed are doing more than just showing their learning in new ways. Remote learning is changing students in ways that will benefit them in all areas of their lives. Danny, an international middle school principal, looked forward to these changes with excitement:
[O]ur students are certainly learning a lot of independent skills and making a lot of choices on their own right now and they’re pursuing a lot of their own interests because they have time to do it because they’re not on a regular school time schedule. So, when they come back to school, it will be very, very fun to capitalize on this new independence and this new confidence and this new self-assuredness of “Oh, yeah, I can do that.”
The school leaders we interviewed were able to see some “silver linings” and potential benefits that might emerge from a harrowing pandemic. Opportunities they identified included time to reimagine school, chances to test new ideas and take risks, and the ability to welcome back students who have embraced a new version of themselves.
Discussion and Implications
The primary themes that emerged from our interviews with the Coronavirus Chronicles participants echoed many of the broad ideas from the scholarly literature. Research is clear, for example, that a strong emphasis on organizational vision and institutional values facilitates leaders’ sensemaking and guides critical decisions during conditions of uncertainty (see, e.g., Prewitt et al., 2011 ; Boin et al., 2013 ). Similarly, the school leaders who we interviewed utilized a variety of focused but far-reaching communication strategies (see, e.g., Heath and O’Hair, 2020 ) to maintain some semblance of instructional and organizational coherence and to support educators and families. This coordination often involved outside entities. For instance, Glenn, a superintendent, shared with us:
Two weeks before this all really started coming down to southern New Jersey,… we put together a giant group of team meetings and we brought in our chiefs of police, fire, public works. We had our mayor in contact. We had our city manager, board of education, our administrators, and our food services. And we sat together as one big team and put all of our egos aside and said, “What do we need to do to work together as the months go on?” And we [continue to regularly] work together, hand-in-hand.
Care for others was another dominant theme that we heard from our interview participants, underscoring the importance of leaders’ attention to educators’ and families’ social, emotional, and mental health concerns (see, e.g., Dückers et al., 2017 ). Often that care focused on resolving fundamental inequities, particularly regarding food insecurity, counseling, social services, or technological access (see, e.g., Dückers et al., 2017 ; Mahfouz et al., 2019 ; McLeod, 2020b ).
A few other leadership observations emerged from our interviews that we think are worth noting here at the end of this article. First, our school leaders repeatedly recognized their reliance on the collective wisdom that exists across organizations and geographic boundaries. Schools that intentionally looked to what was happening elsewhere were able to be more proactive. These schools tapped into their collective networks and connected with colleagues in parts of the world that were among the first affected by the pandemic, thus allowing their organizations more time for conversation, planning, and response.
Second, schools that previously had made certain investments reaped the benefits during the pandemic ( Stern, 2013 ). One obvious example would be the schools that already had implemented 1:1 computing initiatives. These technology-rich systems were able to pivot to remote instruction more easily because most students already had computing devices and home Internet access. A second example would be the middle school that already had competency-based student progressions in place and thus was less concerned than other schools about student “learning loss.” Another example would be the project- and inquiry-based learning schools that we interviewed. Students in those schools already were comfortable with greater self-agency and directing their own work, a useful skill set for learning at home during the pandemic. Other examples include the international schools that had certain processes in place due to previous pandemics such as SARS or MERS or the schools in Alabama that had experience with quick shifts to online learning after hurricanes.
Third, we heard regularly about the ongoing importance of relationships. Sometimes these relationships were simply about coordination of organizational functions, similar to the meetings described above in Glenn’s New Jersey community. More often, however, they represented love, empathy, and care of both the school and the larger community. The educators who we interviewed did heroic work during the first few months of the pandemic to combat food insecurity, care for the people around them, and ensure that learning still occurred for children.
Fourth, many of our participants shared that their clear visions and values, whether individual or institutional, allowed them to maintain operational focus instead of simply being reactive to the ongoing, smaller, day-to-day crises that regularly occurred. Organizational responses that had greater consistency and coherency created fewer stresses on educators and families.
Fifth, schools continue to reflect the contexts of our larger society. For many of our participants, the equity concerns that existed pre-pandemic were magnified during the first few months of the crisis. Food and housing insecurity, digital inequity, and lack of access to mental health supports were all amplified after the pandemic closed down schools. There is a great need for equity-oriented leadership in both schools and their larger communities and political contexts. We need better investments, support systems, and policy approaches to offset the inequities that erode institutional and societal vitality.
Sixth, we were impressed with the resilience and courage that we witnessed from many of our participating educators. Even while struggling personally with the impacts of the pandemic, they still leaned into the immense challenges before them. They were brave enough to try new approaches and create new structures, even when they weren’t sure what would work. We heard numerous examples of individual and organizational risk-taking. Many of those new ideas, support systems, and skill sets will persist after the pandemic. For instance, teachers’ newly acquired technology skills won’t just disappear. Similarly, the increased participation rates that many schools witnessed once parent-teacher conferences went virtual are probably worth preserving.
Finally, some of our participants expressed optimism that the pandemic may radically reshape certain elements of their school systems once they have time to reflect back on what has happened. This reflection on organizational possibilities and institutional futures is common during the “reconstruction” phase ( Boin and Hart, 2003 ) of a crisis (see also Coombs, 2000 ; Heath, 2004 ; Boin et al., 2005 ; Jaques, 2009 ; Smith and Riley, 2012 ). Time will tell if these “silver linings” actually occur. Although many scholars have noted the revolutionary potential of major crises (see, e.g., Prewitt et al., 2011 ; Harris, 2020 ), Boin and Hart (2003) stated that there are inherent tensions between crisis management and reform-oriented leadership. During a crisis, leaders often try to “minimize the damage, alleviate the pain, and restore order” (p. 549), which conflicts with attempts to disrupt the organization and move it in a new direction. If some of these longer-term changes do indeed occur when the pandemic recedes, many of our interviewees will be ready to reap the promises of a newly reimagined world of education.
Crisis leadership matters, primarily because “it is often the handling of a crisis that leads to more damage than the crisis event itself. Learning from a crisis is the best hope we have of preventing repeat occurrences.” ( James and Wooten, 2011 , p. 61). When it comes to education however, Smawfield (2013) stated that “one of the most under-represented areas within the literature. is the capture of knowledge on how schools have been able to respond to real-life disasters” (p. 9). He noted that we have much still to learn about the leadership and institutional challenges that accompany crises, the roles that educators are required to play, and the structures and behaviors that seem to be successful.
Although this study examined school leaders’ responses during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mutch (2015b) noted that “12–24 months after the onset of [a crisis seems] to be a useful time to start to review what has happened” (p. 187). Much of what we will learn about effective school crisis leadership during this pandemic remains unknown and it will take years to reveal the longer-term impacts of COVID-19 on schools and their leaders. Harris and Jones (2020) stated that, “a new chapter is being written about school leadership in disruptive times that will possibly overtake and overshadow all that was written before on the topic” (p. 246). That chapter–and the overall story of pandemic-era schooling–continues to be written. For many of the schools that we interviewed, their reorientations and reinventions may well be underway.
Data Availability Statement
The raw data supporting the conclusions of this article will be made available by the authors, without undue reservation.
SM conducted all of the interviews. Both authors contributed equally to the coding, analysis, and writing of this manuscript. Both authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
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Keywords : crisis leadership, school leadership, pandemic leadership, crisis management, COVID-19, schools, administrators, leadership
Citation: McLeod S and Dulsky S (2021) Resilience, Reorientation, and Reinvention: School Leadership During the Early Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Front. Educ. 6:637075. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2021.637075
Received: 02 December 2020; Accepted: 22 February 2021; Published: 12 March 2021.
Copyright © 2021 McLeod and Dulsky. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
*Correspondence: Scott McLeod, [email protected]
This article is part of the Research Topic
Education Leadership and the COVID-19 Crisis
NASP: The National Association of School Psychologists
Responding to COVID-19: Brief Action Steps for School Crisis Response Teams
In this section.
- Natural Disasters: Brief Facts and Tips
- Resources to Assist States/Territories Recovering from Natural Disasters
- Large-Scale Natural Disasters: Helping Children Cope
- Helping Children After a Wildfire: Tips for Parents and Teachers
- Relocating to a New School: Tips for Families
- New Schools for Students With Disabilities: Tips for Relocated Families
- Natural Disasters and Relocated Students With Special Needs
Schools should be prepared for local and community-wide infectious disease outbreaks. While it is difficult to predict when (or even if) COVID-19 will rise to the level of a pandemic, there are actions schools can take to be ready for such events. Schools need to work collaboratively with their local and state health departments, and be attentive to guidance offered by the CDC , to determine how to ensure safe learning environments. For detailed guidance on how to develop emergency operations plans capable of addressing pandemic illnesses refer to “Preparing for a Pandemic Illness: Guidelines for School Administrators and Crisis Teams.” This document provides suggestions for the immediate school response to the threat presented by COVID-19.
School Emergency Operations Plan
Ideally, schools have a well-developed emergency operations plan (EOP, also often referred to as crisis response plan ) to help them respond to multiple emergencies. In 2013 the U.S. Department of Education developed a guide to support schools in developing an EOP ( Guide for Developing High Quality School Emergency Operations Plans ). The EOP provides information that can support pandemic illness planning. Regardless of the status of your EOP, there are a number of specific actions that school crisis response teams can take right now in response to COVD-19. These include actions taken by what are often referred to as the Communication and Warning Annex; Public Health, Medical, and Mental Health Annex; Continuity of Operations (COOP) Annex; and Recovery Annex.
Communication and Warning Actions
The timely distribution of crisis facts is among the most important things a school can do when responding to a threatening situation. Thus, the following suggestions are offered:
- In consultation with school and community health officials, and consistent with guidance offered by the CDC , draft communication messages for school community members that provide updated information about COVID-19 and how to remain healthy. All of these communications should include current information about actions schools are taking to help ensure safety and provide guidance that empowers caregivers to help students cope with this health crisis.
- Schools should draft several communications and social media posts for (a) when the illness is confirmed in the community, (b) when a significant number of students are found ill, and (c) when schools need to close due to the illness.
- Identify multiple communication outlets (e.g., television, social media, email, letters home, voicemail) through which these messages might be shared.
- Share information for parents on how to talk to support their children regarding COVID-19 ( Talking to Children About COVID-19 (coronavirus): A Parent Resource from NASP and NASN)
Public Health Actions
Promote daily preventive actions for all staff, students, and families. For example, schools should encourage students to engage in health-promoting behaviors that prevent illnesses:
- Wash hands multiple times a day for at least 20 seconds.
- Don’t share food or drinks.
- Give elbow bumps instead of handshakes.
- Encourage students and school staff members to eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly to help them develop strong immune systems capable of fighting illness.
Public health actions also include activities that help reduce the spread of infectious diseases. For example:
- Know the symptoms of COVID-19 and ensure that information is made available to the school community in developmentally appropriate ways.
- Provide training about flu transmission and control measures. Train students to cover their mouths with a tissue when they sneeze or cough and throw out the tissue immediately, or to sneeze or cough into the bends of their elbows.
- Educate employees, visitors, and primary caregivers not to come to the school if they have flu symptoms. Reinforce for families to keep sick children home.
- Establish or reinforce procedures for how families let the school know if their child is sick. These procedures should include letting the school know why the student has been kept home so as to be able to track symptoms. If children are diagnosed with COVID-19, parents must let the school know so they can communicate with, and get guidance from, local health authorities.
- School health professionals might consider interviewing flu-like illness cases for pandemic risk factors and following CDC guidelines for health professionals regarding next steps.
- Begin to conduct active surveillance to identify influenza cases (e.g., review temperature logs; triage “sick” calls, hospitalizations, staff absences, unexplained deaths).
Also, attend to the school building itself. For example:
- Consider changing the air conditioning system filters; during the day, where possible, increase ventilation.
- Following each school day, the school should be thoroughly ventilated and cleaned. This can be done by opening all doors and windows or turning the air conditioning or heating systems up.
- Ensure that school administrators can control access to the buildings. Each school should have a plan to close certain entrances and exits, and to monitor others. To prepare for disease outbreaks, identify a main entrance and an indoor area where students and staff can be screened prior to moving to classrooms or other areas of the school.
If they have not already done so, school health professionals should:
- Assess adequacy of infection-control supplies and review distribution plan.
- Identify areas within the school facility that can be used for isolation and quarantine.
- Develop plans for stockpiling and distributing infection-control supplies.
- Initiate screening for flu-like illnesses at the front desk and nurses’ offices.
- Isolate and send home staff or students with flu-like symptoms, utilizing supervised isolation areas in the school—access to this room should be strictly limited and monitored (i.e., parents picking up their ill children should be escorted to and from the isolation area), and a carefully monitored student checkout system should be activated.
Mental Health Actions
School personnel should provide caregivers with information regarding how to address the stress that might be generated by COVID-19. In addition to being told who to contact if they want help addressing their child’s anxiety about this virus, they should be advised that striving to find ways to make the danger associated with COVID-19 more predictable and controllable reduces how threatening their children will view the situation. Specifically, youth should be provided with developmentally appropriate information that (a) helps them to accurately gauge the threat presented by this disease and (b) reduces their risk of getting sick. In addition, giving students concrete things they can do to keep themselves and others healthy will reduce stress. And finally, highlight the actions that adults are taking to ensure student safety. See the companion document “ Preparing for Infectious Disease Epidemics: Brief Tips for School Mental Health Professionals .”
Continuity of Operations Actions
Administrators should begin to consider how they would maintain essential operations should COVID-19 affect their school. Previously issued guidance, provided by the U.S. Department of Education, titled Preparing for the Flu: Department of Education Recommendations to Ensure the Continuity of Learning for Schools (K–12) During Extended Student Absence or School Dismissal , will support such considerations. Among the issues this emergency operations plan (EOP) should address are the continuity of learning activities (e.g., how to continue learning activities if there are school closures or extended absences), order of succession and delegation of authority (e.g., who makes decisions should school administrators get sick), how to maintain essential school operations (e.g., what are the essential activities that must not be interrupted, such as payroll, and how will they be maintained during school closures), and guidelines for school staff members (e.g., who needs to continue working even during school closures).
Finally, begin to consider actions that would be taken should COVID-19 actually be present within a school. The companion document “ Preparing for a Pandemic Illness: Guidelines for School Administrators and Crisis Response Teams ” provides such guidance.
- Preparing for a Pandemic Illness: Guidelines for School Administrators and Crisis Teams: https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/health-crises/preparing-for-a-pandemic-illness-guidelines-for-school-administrators-and-school-crisis-response-teams
- Preparing for Infectious Disease Epidemics: Brief Tips for School Mental Health Professionals: https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/health-crises/preparing-for-infectious-disease-epidemics-brief-tips-for-school-mental-health-professionals
- Talking to Children About COVID-19 (coronavirus): A Parent Resource: https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/health-crises/talking-to-children-about-covid-19-(coronavirus)-a-parent-resource
Interim Guidance for Administrators of U.S. Childcare Programs and K-12 Schools to Plan, Prepare, and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19):
- Handwashing and Hand Sanitizer Use at Home, at Play, and Out and About: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/pdf/hand-sanitizer-factsheet.pdf
- How to Disinfect Schools to Prevent the Spread of Flu: https://rems.ed.gov/Docs/How_to_ pdf
For more information related to schools and physical and mental health, visit www.nasponline.org and www.nasn.org
© 2020, National Association of School Psychologists, 4340 East West Highway, Suite 402, Bethesda, MD 20814, 301-657-0270, www.nasponline.org
Please cite this document as:
National Association of School Psychologists. (2020). Responding to COVID-19: Brief action steps for school crisis response teams [handout].
COVID-19: Brief Action Steps for School Crisis Response Teams
Mission: Recovering Education in 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused abrupt and profound changes around the world. This is the worst shock to education systems in decades, with the longest school closures combined with looming recession. It will set back progress made on global development goals, particularly those focused on education. The economic crises within countries and globally will likely lead to fiscal austerity, increases in poverty, and fewer resources available for investments in public services from both domestic expenditure and development aid. All of this will lead to a crisis in human development that continues long after disease transmission has ended.
Disruptions to education systems over the past year have already driven substantial losses and inequalities in learning. All the efforts to provide remote instruction are laudable, but this has been a very poor substitute for in-person learning. Even more concerning, many children, particularly girls, may not return to school even when schools reopen. School closures and the resulting disruptions to school participation and learning are projected to amount to losses valued at $10 trillion in terms of affected children’s future earnings. Schools also play a critical role around the world in ensuring the delivery of essential health services and nutritious meals, protection, and psycho-social support. Thus, school closures have also imperilled children’s overall wellbeing and development, not just their learning.
It’s not enough for schools to simply reopen their doors after COVID-19. Students will need tailored and sustained support to help them readjust and catch-up after the pandemic. We must help schools prepare to provide that support and meet the enormous challenges of the months ahead. The time to act is now; the future of an entire generation is at stake.
Mission objective: To enable all children to return to school and to a supportive learning environment, which also addresses their health and psychosocial well-being and other needs.
Timeframe : By end 2021.
Scope : All countries should reopen schools for complete or partial in-person instruction and keep them open. The Partners - UNESCO , UNICEF , and the World Bank - will join forces to support countries to take all actions possible to plan, prioritize, and ensure that all learners are back in school; that schools take all measures to reopen safely; that students receive effective remedial learning and comprehensive services to help recover learning losses and improve overall welfare; and their teachers are prepared and supported to meet their learning needs.
1. All children and youth are back in school and receive the tailored services needed to meet their learning, health, psychosocial wellbeing, and other needs.
Challenges : School closures have put children’s learning, nutrition, mental health, and overall development at risk. Closed schools also make screening and delivery for child protection services more difficult. Some students, particularly girls, are at risk of never returning to school.
Areas of action : The Partners will support the design and implementation of school reopening strategies that include comprehensive services to support children’s education, health, psycho-social wellbeing, and other needs.
Targets and indicators
2. All children receive support to catch up on lost learning.
Challenges : Most children have lost substantial instructional time and may not be ready for curricula that were age- and grade- appropriate prior to the pandemic. They will require remedial instruction to get back on track. The pandemic also revealed a stark digital divide that schools can play a role in addressing by ensuring children have digital skills and access.
Areas of action : The Partners will (i) support the design and implementation of large-scale remedial learning at different levels of education, (ii) launch an open-access, adaptable learning assessment tool that measures learning losses and identifies learners’ needs, and (iii) support the design and implementation of digital transformation plans that include components on both infrastructure and ways to use digital technology to accelerate the development of foundational literacy and numeracy skills. Incorporating digital technologies to teach foundational skills could complement teachers’ efforts in the classroom and better prepare children for future digital instruction.
While incorporating remedial education, social-emotional learning, and digital technology into curricula by the end of 2021 will be a challenge for most countries, the Partners agree that these are aspirational targets that they should be supporting countries to achieve this year and beyond as education systems start to recover from the current crisis.
3. All teachers are prepared and supported to address learning losses among their students and to incorporate digital technology into their teaching.
Challenges : Teachers are in an unprecedented situation in which they must make up for substantial loss of instructional time from the previous school year and teach the current year’s curriculum. They must also protect their own health in school. Teachers will need training, coaching, and other means of support to get this done. They will also need to be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccination, after frontline personnel and high-risk populations. School closures also demonstrated that in addition to digital skills, teachers may also need support to adapt their pedagogy to deliver instruction remotely.
Areas of action : The Partners will advocate for teachers to be prioritized in COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, after frontline personnel and high-risk populations, and provide capacity-development on pedagogies for remedial learning and digital and blended teaching approaches.
Country level actions and global support
UNESCO, UNICEF, and World Bank are joining forces to support countries to achieve the Mission, leveraging their expertise and actions on the ground to support national efforts and domestic funding.
Country Level Action
1. Mobilize team to support countries in achieving the three priorities
The Partners will collaborate and act at the country level to support governments in accelerating actions to advance the three priorities.
2. Advocacy to mobilize domestic resources for the three priorities
The Partners will engage with governments and decision-makers to prioritize education financing and mobilize additional domestic resources.
Global level action
1. Leverage data to inform decision-making
The Partners will join forces to conduct surveys; collect data; and set-up a global, regional, and national real-time data-warehouse. The Partners will collect timely data and analytics that provide access to information on school re-openings, learning losses, drop-outs, and transition from school to work, and will make data available to support decision-making and peer-learning.
2. Promote knowledge sharing and peer-learning in strengthening education recovery
The Partners will join forces in sharing the breadth of international experience and scaling innovations through structured policy dialogue, knowledge sharing, and peer learning actions.
The time to act on these priorities is now. UNESCO, UNICEF, and the World Bank are partnering to help drive that action.
Last Updated: Mar 30, 2021
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Essay On Covid-19: 100, 200 and 300 Words
- Updated on
- Sep 20, 2023
COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, is a global pandemic that has affected people all around the world. It first emerged in a lab in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 and quickly spread to countries around the world. This virus was reportedly caused by SARS-CoV-2. Since then, it has spread rapidly to many countries, causing widespread illness and impacting our lives in numerous ways. This blog talks about the details of this virus and also drafts an essay on COVID-19 in 100, 200 and 300 words for students and professionals.
This Blog Includes:
Essay on covid-19 in english 100 words, essay on covid-19 in 200 words, essay on covid-19 in 300 words.
Also Read – Essay on Music
COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is a global pandemic. It started in late 2019 and has affected people all around the world. The virus spreads very quickly through someone’s sneeze and respiratory issues.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our lives, with lockdowns, travel restrictions, and changes in daily routines. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, we should wear masks, practice social distancing, and wash our hands frequently.
People should follow social distancing and other safety guidelines and also learn the tricks to be safe stay healthy and work the whole challenging time.
COVID-19 also known as coronavirus, became a global health crisis in early 2020 and impacted mankind around the world. This virus is said to have originated in Wuhan, China in late 2019. It belongs to the coronavirus family and causes flu-like symptoms. It impacted the healthcare systems, economies and the daily lives of people all over the world.
The most crucial aspect of COVID-19 is its highly spreadable nature. It is a communicable disease that spreads through various means such as coughs from infected persons, sneezes and communication. Due to its easy transmission leading to its outbreaks, there were many measures taken by the government from all over the world such as Lockdowns, Social Distancing, and wearing masks.
There are many changes throughout the economic systems, and also in daily routines. Other measures such as schools opting for Online schooling, Remote work options available and restrictions on travel throughout the country and internationally. Subsequently, to cure and top its outbreak, the government started its vaccine campaigns, and other preventive measures.
In conclusion, COVID-19 tested the patience and resilience of the mankind. This pandemic has taught people the importance of patience, effort and humbleness.
Also Read – Essay on My Best Friend
COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is a serious and contagious disease that has affected people worldwide. It was first discovered in late 2019 in Cina and then got spread in the whole world. It had a major impact on people’s life, their school, work and daily lives.
COVID-19 is primarily transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets produced and through sneezes, and coughs of an infected person. It can spread to thousands of people because of its highly contagious nature. To cure the widespread of this virus, there are thousands of steps taken by the people and the government.
Wearing masks is one of the essential precautions to prevent the virus from spreading. Social distancing is another vital practice, which involves maintaining a safe distance from others to minimize close contact.
Very frequent handwashing is also very important to stop the spread of this virus. Proper hand hygiene can help remove any potential virus particles from our hands, reducing the risk of infection.
In conclusion, the Coronavirus has changed people’s perspective on living. It has also changed people’s way of interacting and how to live. To deal with this virus, it is very important to follow the important guidelines such as masks, social distancing and techniques to wash your hands. Getting vaccinated is also very important to go back to normal life and cure this virus completely. As we continue to battle this pandemic, it is crucial for everyone to do their part to protect themselves and their communities.
to write an essay on COVID-19, understand your word limit and make sure to cover all the stages and symptoms of this disease. You need to highlight all the challenges and impacts of COVID-19. Do not forget to conclude your essay with positive precautionary measures.
Writing an essay on COVID-19 in 200 words requires you to cover all the challenges, impacts and precautions of this disease. You don’t need to describe all of these factors in brief, but make sure to add as many options as your word limit allows.
The full form for COVID-19 is Corona Virus Disease of 2019.
Hence, we hope that this blog has assisted you in comprehending what an essay on COVID-19 in English 200 words must include. For more such essays, check our category essay writing .
An avid writer and a creative person. With an experience of 1.5 years content writing, Simran has worked with different areas. From medical to working in a marketing agency with different clients to Ed-tech company, the journey has been diverse. Creative, vivacious and patient are the words that describe her personality.
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12 Ideas for Writing Through the Pandemic With The New York Times
A dozen writing projects — including journals, poems, comics and more — for students to try at home.
By Natalie Proulx
The coronavirus has transformed life as we know it. Schools are closed, we’re confined to our homes and the future feels very uncertain. Why write at a time like this?
For one, we are living through history. Future historians may look back on the journals, essays and art that ordinary people are creating now to tell the story of life during the coronavirus.
But writing can also be deeply therapeutic. It can be a way to express our fears, hopes and joys. It can help us make sense of the world and our place in it.
Plus, even though school buildings are shuttered, that doesn’t mean learning has stopped. Writing can help us reflect on what’s happening in our lives and form new ideas.
We want to help inspire your writing about the coronavirus while you learn from home. Below, we offer 12 projects for students, all based on pieces from The New York Times, including personal narrative essays, editorials, comic strips and podcasts. Each project features a Times text and prompts to inspire your writing, as well as related resources from The Learning Network to help you develop your craft. Some also offer opportunities to get your work published in The Times, on The Learning Network or elsewhere.
We know this list isn’t nearly complete. If you have ideas for other pandemic-related writing projects, please suggest them in the comments.
In the meantime, happy writing!
Journaling is well-known as a therapeutic practice , a tool for helping you organize your thoughts and vent your emotions, especially in anxiety-ridden times. But keeping a diary has an added benefit during a pandemic: It may help educate future generations.
In “ The Quarantine Diaries ,” Amelia Nierenberg spoke to Ady, an 8-year-old in the Bay Area who is keeping a diary. Ms. Nierenberg writes:
As the coronavirus continues to spread and confine people largely to their homes, many are filling pages with their experiences of living through a pandemic. Their diaries are told in words and pictures: pantry inventories, window views, questions about the future, concerns about the present. Taken together, the pages tell the story of an anxious, claustrophobic world on pause. “You can say anything you want, no matter what, and nobody can judge you,” Ady said in a phone interview earlier this month, speaking about her diary. “No one says, ‘scaredy-cat.’” When future historians look to write the story of life during coronavirus, these first-person accounts may prove useful. “Diaries and correspondences are a gold standard,” said Jane Kamensky, a professor of American History at Harvard University and the faculty director of the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute. “They’re among the best evidence we have of people’s inner worlds.”
You can keep your own journal, recording your thoughts, questions, concerns and experiences of living through the coronavirus pandemic.
Not sure what to write about? Read the rest of Ms. Nierenberg’s article to find out what others around the world are recording. If you need more inspiration, here are a few writing prompts to get you started:
How has the virus disrupted your daily life? What are you missing? School, sports, competitions, extracurricular activities, social plans, vacations or anything else?
What effect has this crisis had on your own mental and emotional health?
What changes, big or small, are you noticing in the world around you?
For more ideas, see our writing prompts . We post a new one every school day, many of them now related to life during the coronavirus.
You can write in your journal every day or as often as you like. And if writing isn’t working for you right now, try a visual, audio or video diary instead.
2. Personal Narrative
As you write in your journal, you’ll probably find that your life during the pandemic is full of stories, whether serious or funny, angry or sad. If you’re so inspired, try writing about one of your experiences in a personal narrative essay.
Here’s how Mary Laura Philpott begins her essay, “ This Togetherness Is Temporary, ” about being quarantined with her teenage children:
Get this: A couple of months ago, I quit my job in order to be home more. Go ahead and laugh at the timing. I know. At the time, it was hitting me that my daughter starts high school in the fall, and my son will be a senior. Increasingly they were spending their time away from me at school, with friends, and in the many time-intensive activities that make up teenage lives. I could feel the clock ticking, and I wanted to spend the minutes I could — the minutes they were willing to give me, anyway — with them, instead of sitting in front of a computer at night and on weekends in order to juggle a job as a bookseller, a part-time gig as a television host, and a book deadline. I wanted more of them while they were still living in my house. Now here we are, all together, every day. You’re supposed to be careful what you wish for, but come on. None of us saw this coming.
Personal narratives are short, powerful stories about meaningful life experiences, big or small. Read the rest of Ms. Philpott’s essay to see how she balances telling the story of a specific moment in time and reflecting on what it all means in the larger context of her life.
To help you identify the moments that have been particularly meaningful, difficult, comical or strange during this pandemic, try responding to one of our writing prompts related to the coronavirus:
Holidays and Birthdays Are Moments to Come Together. How Are You Adapting During the Pandemic?
Has Your School Switched to Remote Learning? How Is It Going So Far?
Is the Coronavirus Pandemic Bringing Your Extended Family Closer Together?
How Is the Coronavirus Outbreak Affecting Your Life?
Another option? Use any of the images in our Picture Prompt series to inspire you to write about a memory from your life.
Related Resource: Writing Curriculum | Unit 1: Teach Narrative Writing With The New York Times
People have long turned to creative expression in times of crisis. During the coronavirus pandemic, artists are continuing to illustrate , play music , dance , perform — and write poetry .
That’s what Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, an emergency room doctor in Boston, did after a long shift treating coronavirus patients. Called “ The Apocalypse ,” her poem begins like this:
This is the apocalypse A daffodil has poked its head up from the dirt and opened sunny arms to bluer skies yet I am filled with dark and anxious dread as theaters close as travel ends and grocery stores display their empty rows where toilet paper liquid bleach and bags of flour stood in upright ranks.
Read the rest of Dr. Mitchell’s poem and note the lines, images and metaphors that speak to you. Then, tap into your creative side by writing a poem inspired by your own experience of the pandemic.
Need inspiration? Try writing a poem in response to one of our Picture Prompts . Or, you can create a found poem using an article from The Times’s coronavirus outbreak coverage . If you have access to the print paper, try making a blackout poem instead.
Related Resources: 24 Ways to Teach and Learn About Poetry With The New York Times Reader Idea | How the Found Poem Can Inspire Teachers and Students Alike
4. Letter to the Editor
Have you been keeping up with the news about the coronavirus? What is your reaction to it?
Make your voice heard by writing a letter to the editor about a recent Times article, editorial, column or Opinion essay related to the pandemic. You can find articles in The Times’s free coronavirus coverage or The Learning Network’s coronavirus resources for students . And, if you’re a high school student, your school can get you free digital access to The New York Times from now until July 6.
To see examples, read the letters written by young people in response to recent headlines in “ How the Young Deal With the Coronavirus .” Here’s what Addie Muller from San Jose, Calif., had to say about the Opinion essay “ I’m 26. Coronavirus Sent Me to the Hospital ”:
As a high school student and a part of Generation Z, I’ve been less concerned about getting Covid-19 and more concerned about spreading it to more vulnerable populations. While I’ve been staying at home and sheltering in place (as was ordered for the state of California), many of my friends haven’t been doing the same. I know people who continue going to restaurants and have been treating the change in education as an extended spring break and excuse to spend more time with friends. I fear for my grandparents and parents, but this article showed me that we should also fear for ourselves. I appreciated seeing this article because many younger people seem to feel invincible. The fact that a healthy 26-year-old can be hospitalized means that we are all capable of getting the virus ourselves and spreading it to others. I hope that Ms. Lowenstein continues spreading her story and that she makes a full recovery soon.
As you read, note some of the defining features of a letter to the editor and what made these good enough to publish. For more advice, see these tips from Thomas Feyer, the letters editor at The Times, about how to write a compelling letter. They include:
Write briefly and to the point.
Be prepared to back up your facts with evidence.
Write about something off the beaten path.
Publishing Opportunity: When you’re ready, submit your letter to The New York Times.
Maybe you have more to say than you can fit in a 150-word letter to the editor. If that’s the case, try writing an editorial about something you have a strong opinion about related to the coronavirus. What have you seen that has made you upset? Proud? Appreciative? Scared?
In “ Surviving Coronavirus as a Broke College Student ,” Sydney Goins, a senior English major at the University of Georgia, writes about the limited options for students whose colleges are now closed. Her essay begins:
College was supposed to be my ticket to financial security. My parents were the first ones to go to college in their family. My grandpa said to my mom, “You need to go to college, so you don’t have to depend on a man for money.” This same mentality was passed on to me as well. I had enough money to last until May— $1,625 to be exact — until the coronavirus ruined my finances. My mom works in human resources. My dad is a project manager for a mattress company. I worked part time at the university’s most popular dining hall and lived in a cramped house with three other students. I don’t have a car. I either walked or biked a mile to attend class. I have student debt and started paying the accrued interest last month. I was making it work until the coronavirus shut down my college town. At first, spring break was extended by two weeks with the assumption that campus would open again in late March, but a few hours after that email, all 26 colleges in the University System of Georgia canceled in-person classes and closed integral parts of campus.
Read the rest of Ms. Goins’s essay. What is her argument? How does she support it? How is it relevant to her life and the world?
Then, choose a topic related to the pandemic that you care about and write an editorial that asserts an opinion and backs it up with solid reasoning and evidence.
Not sure where to start? Try responding to some of our recent argumentative writing prompts and see what comes up for you. Here are a few we’ve asked students so far:
Should Schools Change How They Grade Students During the Pandemic?
What Role Should Celebrities Have During the Coronavirus Crisis?
Is It Immoral to Increase the Price of Goods During a Crisis?
Or, consider essential questions about the pandemic and what they tell us about our world today: What weaknesses is the coronavirus exposing in our society? How can we best help our communities right now? What lessons can we learn from this crisis? See more here.
As an alternative to a written essay, you might try creating a video Op-Ed instead, like Katherine Oung’s “ Coronavirus Racism Infected My High School. ”
Publishing Opportunity: Submit your final essay to our Student Editorial Contest , open to middle school and high school students ages 10-19, until April 21. Please be sure to read all the rules and guidelines before submitting.
Related Resource: An Argumentative-Writing Unit for Students Doing Remote Learning
Are games, television, music, books, art or movies providing you with a much-needed distraction during the pandemic? What has been working for you that you would recommend to others? Or, what would you caution others to stay away from right now?
Share your opinions by writing a review of a piece of art or culture for other teenagers who are stuck at home. You might suggest TV shows, novels, podcasts, video games, recipes or anything else. Or, try something made especially for the coronavirus era, like a virtual architecture tour , concert or safari .
As a mentor text, read Laura Cappelle’s review of French theater companies that have rushed to put content online during the coronavirus outbreak, noting how she tailors her commentary to our current reality:
The 17th-century philosopher Blaise Pascal once wrote: “The sole cause of people’s unhappiness is that they do not know how to stay quietly in their rooms.” Yet at a time when much of the world has been forced to hunker down, French theater-makers are fighting to fill the void by making noise online.
Under the circumstances, it would be churlish to complain about artists’ desire to connect with audiences in some fashion. Theater, which depends on crowds gathering to watch performers at close quarters, is experiencing significant loss and upheaval, with many stagings either delayed indefinitely or canceled outright. But a sampling of stopgap offerings often left me underwhelmed.
To get inspired you might start by responding to our related Student Opinion prompt with your recommendations. Then turn one of them into a formal review.
Related Resource: Writing Curriculum | Unit 2: Analyzing Arts, Criticizing Culture: Writing Reviews With The New York Times
7. How-to Guide
Being stuck at home with nowhere to go is the perfect time to learn a new skill. What are you an expert at that you can you teach someone?
The Times has created several guides that walk readers through how to do something step-by-step, for example, this eight-step tutorial on how to make a face mask . Read through the guide, noting how the author breaks down each step into an easily digestible action, as well as how the illustrations support comprehension.
Then, create your own how-to guide for something you could teach someone to do during the pandemic. Maybe it’s a recipe you’ve perfected, a solo sport you’ve been practicing, or a FaceTime tutorial for someone who’s never video chatted before.
Whatever you choose, make sure to write clearly so anyone anywhere could try out this new skill. As an added challenge, include an illustration, photo, or audio or video clip with each step to support the reader’s understanding.
Related Resource: Writing Curriculum | Unit 4: Informational Writing
8. 36 Hours Column
For nearly two decades, The Times has published a weekly 36 Hours column , giving readers suggestions for how to spend a weekend in cities all over the globe.
While traveling for fun is not an option now, the Travel section decided to create a special reader-generated column of how to spend a weekend in the midst of a global pandemic. The result? “ 36 Hours in … Wherever You Are .” Here’s how readers suggest spending a Sunday morning:
8 a.m. Changing routines Make small discoveries. To stretch my legs during the lockdown, I’ve been walking around the block every day, and I’ve started to notice details that I’d never seen before. Like the fake, painted window on the building across the road, or the old candle holders that were once used as part of the street lighting. When the quarantine ends, I hope we don’t forget to appreciate what’s been on a doorstep all along. — Camilla Capasso, Modena, Italy 10:30 a.m. Use your hands Undertake the easiest and most fulfilling origami project of your life by folding 12 pieces of paper and building this lovely star . Modular origami has been my absolute favorite occupational therapy since I was a restless child: the process is enthralling and soothing. — Laila Dib, Berlin, Germany 12 p.m. Be isolated, together Check on neighbors on your block or floor with an email, text or phone call, or leave a card with your name and contact information. Are they OK? Do they need something from the store? Help with an errand? Food? Can you bring them a hot dish or home-baked bread? This simple act — done carefully and from a safe distance — palpably reduces our sense of fear and isolation. I’ve seen the faces of some neighbors for the first time. Now they wave. — Jim Carrier, Burlington, Vt.
Read the entire article. As you read, consider: How would this be different if it were written by teenagers for teenagers?
Then, create your own 36 Hours itinerary for teenagers stuck at home during the pandemic with ideas for how to spend the weekend wherever they are.
The 36 Hours editors suggest thinking “within the spirit of travel, even if many of us are housebound.” For example: an album or a song playlist; a book or movie that transports you; a particular recipe you love; or a clever way to virtually connect with family and friends. See more suggestions here .
Related Resources: Reader Idea | 36 Hours in Your Hometown 36 Hours in Learning: Creating Travel Itineraries Across the Curriculum
9. Photo Essay
Daily life looks very different now. Unusual scenes are playing out in homes, parks, grocery stores and streets across the country.
In “ New York Was Not Designed for Emptiness ,” New York Times photographers document what life in New York City looks like amid the pandemic. It begins:
The lights are still on in Times Square. Billboards blink and storefronts shine in neon. If only there were an audience for this spectacle. But the thoroughfares have been abandoned. The energy that once crackled along the concrete has eased. The throngs of tourists, the briskly striding commuters, the honking drivers have mostly skittered away. In their place is a wistful awareness that plays across all five boroughs: Look how eerie our brilliant landscape has become. Look how it no longer bustles. This is not the New York City anyone signed up for.
Read the rest of the essay and view the photos. As you read, note the photos or lines in the text that grab your attention most. Why do they stand out to you?
What does the pandemic look like where you live? Create your own photo essay, accompanied by a written piece, that illustrates your life now. In your essay, consider how you can communicate a particular theme or message about life during the pandemic through both your photos and words, like in the article you read.
Publishing Opportunity: The International Center of Photography is collecting a virtual archive of images related to the coronavirus pandemic. Learn how to submit yours here.
10. Comic Strip
Sometimes, words alone just won’t do. Visual mediums, like comics, have the advantage of being able to express emotion, reveal inner monologues, and explain complex subjects in ways that words on their own seldom can.
If anything proves this point, it is the Opinion section’s ongoing visual diary, “ Art in Isolation .” Scroll through this collection to see clever and poignant illustrations about life in these uncertain times. Read the comic “ Finding Connection When Home Alone ” by Gracey Zhang from this collection. As you read, note what stands out to you about the writing and illustrations. What lessons could they have for your own piece?
Then, create your own comic strip, modeled after the one you read, that explores some aspect of life during the pandemic. You can sketch and color your comic with paper and pen, or use an online tool like MakeBeliefsComix.com .
Need inspiration? If you’re keeping a quarantine journal, as we suggested above, you might create a graphic story based on a week of your life, or just a small part of it — like the meals you ate, the video games you played, or the conversations you had with friends over text. For more ideas, check out our writing prompts related to the coronavirus.
Related Resource: From Superheroes to Syrian Refugees: Teaching Comics and Graphic Novels With Resources From The New York Times
Modern Love Podcast: In the Midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic, People Share Their Love Stories
Are you listening to any podcasts to help you get through the pandemic? Are they keeping you up-to-date on the news? Offering advice? Or just helping you escape from it all?
Create your own five-minute podcast segment that responds to the coronavirus in some way.
To get an idea of the different genres and formats your podcast could take, listen to one or more of these five-minute clips from three New York Times podcast episodes related to the coronavirus:
“ The Daily | Voices of the Pandemic ” (1:15-6:50)
“ Still Processing | A Pod From Both Our Houses ” (0:00-4:50)
“ Modern Love | In the Midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic, People Share Their Love Stories ” (1:30-6:30)
Use these as models for your own podcast. Consider the different narrative techniques they use to relate an experience of the pandemic — interviews, nonfiction storytelling and conversation — as well as how they create an engaging listening experience.
Need ideas for what to talk about? You might try translating any of the writing projects above into podcast form. Or turn to our coronavirus-related writing prompts for inspiration.
Publishing Opportunity: Submit your finished five-minute podcast to our Student Podcast Contest , which is open through May 19. Please read all the rules and guidelines before submitting.
Related Resource: Project Audio: Teaching Students How to Produce Their Own Podcasts
12. Revise and Edit
“It doesn’t matter how good you think you are as a writer — the first words you put on the page are a first draft,” Harry Guinness writes in “ How to Edit Your Own Writing .”
Editing your work may seem like something you do quickly — checking for spelling mistakes just before you turn in your essay — but Mr. Guinness argues it’s a project in its own right:
The time you put into editing, reworking and refining turns your first draft into a second — and then into a third and, if you keep at it, eventually something great. The biggest mistake you can make as a writer is to assume that what you wrote the first time through was good enough.
Read the rest of the article for a step-by-step guide to editing your own work. Then, revise one of the pieces you have written, following Mr. Guinness’s advice.
Publishing Opportunity: When you feel like your piece is “something great,” consider submitting it to one of the publishing opportunities we’ve suggested above. Or, see our list of 70-plus places that publish teenage writing and art to find more.
Natalie Proulx joined The Learning Network as a staff editor in 2017 after working as an English language arts teacher and curriculum writer. More about Natalie Proulx
Writing about COVID-19 in a college admission essay
by: Venkates Swaminathan | Updated: September 14, 2020
For students applying to college using the CommonApp, there are several different places where students and counselors can address the pandemic’s impact. The different sections have differing goals. You must understand how to use each section for its appropriate use.
The CommonApp COVID-19 question
First, the CommonApp this year has an additional question specifically about COVID-19 :
Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. Colleges care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces. Please use this space to describe how these events have impacted you.
This question seeks to understand the adversity that students may have had to face due to the pandemic, the move to online education, or the shelter-in-place rules. You don’t have to answer this question if the impact on you wasn’t particularly severe. Some examples of things students should discuss include:
- The student or a family member had COVID-19 or suffered other illnesses due to confinement during the pandemic.
- The candidate had to deal with personal or family issues, such as abusive living situations or other safety concerns
- The student suffered from a lack of internet access and other online learning challenges.
- Students who dealt with problems registering for or taking standardized tests and AP exams.
Jeff Schiffman of the Tulane University admissions office has a blog about this section. He recommends students ask themselves several questions as they go about answering this section:
- Are my experiences different from others’?
- Are there noticeable changes on my transcript?
- Am I aware of my privilege?
- Am I specific? Am I explaining rather than complaining?
- Is this information being included elsewhere on my application?
If you do answer this section, be brief and to-the-point.
Counselor recommendations and school profiles
Second, counselors will, in their counselor forms and school profiles on the CommonApp, address how the school handled the pandemic and how it might have affected students, specifically as it relates to:
- Grading scales and policies
- Graduation requirements
- Instructional methods
- Schedules and course offerings
- Testing requirements
- Your academic calendar
- Other extenuating circumstances
Students don’t have to mention these matters in their application unless something unusual happened.
Writing about COVID-19 in your main essay
Write about your experiences during the pandemic in your main college essay if your experience is personal, relevant, and the most important thing to discuss in your college admission essay. That you had to stay home and study online isn’t sufficient, as millions of other students faced the same situation. But sometimes, it can be appropriate and helpful to write about something related to the pandemic in your essay. For example:
- One student developed a website for a local comic book store. The store might not have survived without the ability for people to order comic books online. The student had a long-standing relationship with the store, and it was an institution that created a community for students who otherwise felt left out.
- One student started a YouTube channel to help other students with academic subjects he was very familiar with and began tutoring others.
- Some students used their extra time that was the result of the stay-at-home orders to take online courses pursuing topics they are genuinely interested in or developing new interests, like a foreign language or music.
Experiences like this can be good topics for the CommonApp essay as long as they reflect something genuinely important about the student. For many students whose lives have been shaped by this pandemic, it can be a critical part of their college application.
Want more? Read 6 ways to improve a college essay , What the &%$! should I write about in my college essay , and Just how important is a college admissions essay? .
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International Student COVID-19 Essay Writing Competition
The pandemic is affecting different people in different ways. Some people have lost their jobs, others experienced loneliness and loss, yet, others discovered new things about themselves or learned new hobbies. The International Student Association (ISA) officers are dedicated to hearing the voice of MUSC’s international students. The stress of facing the pandemic as an international student is compounded by being far away from one’s home country and family. As such, the ISA organized an essay writing competition, that would serve as an exercise for the students to express their emotions and personal experience. They created three essay topics under the theme of COVID-19 that ranged in topic from the concrete effect of this pandemic on their lives to an abstract expression of how they view the future impact of this event. The students were given the opportunity to write a 1500-word essay on one of the three following topics:
- As an international student, reflect on your experience of being in a pandemic away from your home country.
- Discuss the long-term effects of COVID-19 on society (e.g. human interactions, career choices, tourism…)
- For the fiction lovers: It is the year 2120 and a high school student is immensely interested in what happened 100 years ago and how it cultivated the way life is in 2120. The floor is yours to be creative and write a fictional story revolving around that student and taking place in 2120.
The essays were scored by three judges based on content, creativity, structure, flow, and need for the financial reward. We were extremely pleased with the engagement and positive feedback we received from the students. They all reported how nice it was to share their stories, be it fictional or not. We are proud of how talented our fellow students are, and we are excited to share the essays of six participants who agreed to let us share their writing.
Read the winner's essays (PDF)
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The COVID-19 Essay: How to Write a Strong Response to this New Prompt
AACOMAS, AADSAS, and OPTCOMCAS have all added a new prompt that asks you how your path to medical, dental, or optometry school has been impacted by COVID-19.
This workshop is specifically designed to assist applicants in writing a strong response to this essay that is authentic, compelling, and reflective. AMCAS has not added a specific new essay prompt about COVID-19 but there will be other places in your application where you will be able to inform medical schools about how your path to medical school was impacted by the pandemic.
This workshop is strongly recommended for 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 applicants to medical, dental, and optometry schools.
More information about this seminar…
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