As we begin the new school year, we must provide all students from all communities and backgrounds with the opportunity to learn safely in person on a full-time basis. The sudden changes towards remote learning in the last two school years have affected students and have had a negative impact on their social, emotional and mental well-being and on their academic performance. They have also exacerbated racial, socio-economic and other inequalities in education. The Department of Education (Department) is committed to helping states and school districts to provide in-person learning to all families and to do so safely by adopting science-based strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 that are aligned with the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC guidelines make it clear that K-12 schools should prioritize in-person learning and that schools can operate safely in-person by implementing phased prevention strategies (using multiple strategies together consistently) in accordance with CDC recommendations. Studies show that schools that systematically implemented stratified prevention strategies showed lower or similar levels of transmission than the communities in which they are located. This includes helping all eligible people to get vaccinated, wearing universal and correct masks indoors regardless of vaccination status 2, using contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, improving ventilation and maintaining physical distance as much as possible. It is important to emphasize that schools must take all deliberate measures to prevent transmission and limit exposure within schools by implementing phased prevention strategies; doing so will help prevent outbreaks and, in the first place, avoid disruptions in face-to-face learning.
More information on how to protect the health and safety of students, educators, staff and school communities can be found in the Department's Back to School Roadmap. The purpose of this document is to help states, school districts and schools maximize safe in-person learning opportunities by maintaining safe school operations and implementing effective practices that address the social, emotional, mental health and academic needs of students when students are temporarily not attending school in person due to cases of COVID-19. When students are temporarily unable to attend school in person due to cases of COVID-19 and, therefore, distance learning is temporarily implemented, it is essential that states, school districts, and schools establish policies to ensure that students continue to access rigorous, high-quality learning, that students' basic needs are addressed, and that their social, emotional and mental health needs are met. These policies should specifically address the specific needs of the students most affected by the pandemic, who are often the same students who were underserved before COVID-19, and ensure that teaching and other critical services are of the same quality as if they were delivered in person.
States, school districts, and schools should pay special attention to the many students, including students learning English, students with disabilities, students of color, students from rural or tribal communities, students from rural or tribal communities, homeless students, and students from low-income environments who disproportionately lack access to the Internet and digital devices. These students and all students should receive high-quality, technology-based learning experiences focused on research, collaboration, and content creation. Funding under the ARP Act and previous federal funding for pandemic recovery could be used right now to address technological needs, including devices, high-speed Internet access, high-quality remote learning platforms, and more. School districts must ensure that multilingual students and students with disabilities have equitable access to content provided through school technology or as part of the school's educational program.
Federal disability laws require that students with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from educational technology aids, benefits, and services that are equal to the opportunities provided to others. Given the possibility of isolation or quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students with disabilities who qualify under the Education for Persons with Disabilities Act (IDEA) must have individualized education programs (IEPs) that include contingent learning plans for those circumstances. In addition, in all contexts, IEP teams must also consider if children need technology, devices and support services. States, school districts, and schools working to reopen schools and maintain in-person teaching should consider the following strategies and best practices to ensure that all students remain engaged and connected to learning if they are temporarily unable to attend in-person due to cases of COVID-19.These strategies apply regardless of how long the student cannot attend in person, including students who may be learning remotely for longer periods of time due to their health status or that of their family members (for example,.
It is important for school districts to plan ahead to avoid interruptions in learning and to make the learning experience for students as smooth as possible, using the preparatory measures and strategies described below. All of these strategies can be supported by the ARP Act through the ESSER funds described above, and many are described in more detail, with examples and resources, in volume 2 of the Department's COVID-19 Manual. Our mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by promoting educational excellence and ensuring equal access. Converting an existing course to a hybrid in-person and online format will require planning time on your part to rethink the objectives of the course and class session, the communication flow and student management, the evaluations and the way you will teach the class.