Return to School Planning

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. ” By Colin Powell

In states, across the county, many leaders and educators are creating plans for how to return to school under ever changing circumstances. It is important for districts, schools and teachers to start researching and putting together draft plans for multiple scenarios. It is possible that this school year districts will have to change scenarios/plans based on state guidelines or new health recommendations. Being prepared will help for smoother transitions and able for districts to be more agile.

Scenario 1: Go back to school with social distancing guidelines in place.

Scenario 2: Hybrid, portions will be face to face and some will be distance learning. This could look different for districts but examples could be one week face to face, two weeks distance learning or face to face one day, distance the next (a/b day).

Scenario 3: Go back to school through distance learning

As everyone is starting to think about how they will go back, it is important to make sure districts have common language so that everyone students, staff and communities. Many districts I am working with are creating a glossary of terms to communicate and refer back to. For example:

Distance Learning: Distance learning occurs when students, their peers, and their teachers are in different geographical locations. Distance learning experiences, which may or may not be facilitated by the use of technology, can occur in synchronous or asynchronous formats. 

Virtual Learning (online/offline + asynch/synch): Instruction is delivered through the internet, software, or both. Virtual learning can be used inside or outside a physical classroom environment and uses a computer, tablet, or tech-enabled device and an online program or software to enhance the learning experience. Virtual learning can be used in a self-paced format (see Asynchronous Learning), or live web conferencing between students and instructors (see Synchronous Learning).  Many districts have a virtual learning school.


Remote Instruction (temporary online): Moving content designed for face-to-face instruction online for limited or one-time-only course instruction, primarily in the case of an emergency or extenuating circumstance. This is not to be confused with distance learning, which is intentionally-designed virtual instruction. (ie what many districts did Spring 2020)

As districts and schools are researching, I have put together some resources as a place to start. Many resources have links within the documents, along with images that also help you think through what you want it to look like in your district, school, classroom. I encourage you to look at other states ideas as it might be similar to your states plans and spark ideas for how you can plan.

Different Return Plans:

Loudoun School District Return Plan Site and PDF
North Carolina Guide Book for Reopening
Fairfax Return Plan

Scheduling Ideas

Learning Continuity Education’s Biggest Challenge and Opportunity
Hybrid School Model (Dallas ISD)

District Communication:

Roadmap to Reopening (Klein, Tx)
Website for Parents (Asheville, NC)

If you have resources to share, please do in the comments as we are all in this together and no one knows what to expect but together we can be better.

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