COVID-19 Report for Educators
First and foremost, we would like to thank all of the hardworking teachers, athletic directors, trainers, coaches, superintendents, and principals from all over the globe who generously took the time to take our survey, share advice, and tell their stories.
In just two weeks, 125 educators from 10 countries shared their honest COVID-19 experiences with us, with 97.3% indicating this public health crisis has been very impactful. This report includes a few insights from our survey and a TON of resources, ideas, and advice for administrators, athletic staff, and teachers.
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What was the biggest action schools across the world took when the virus started spreading? Take a guess and keep reading for some quick insights we found in our survey, or skip to the sections specifically for administrators, athletic staff, or teachers for resources you can use today.
Responding to COVID-19
When this novel coronavirus began spreading, schools had to act quickly to protect students, staff, and their communities. According to our survey, allowing employees to work from home was the number one response action amongst those in the education sector, with 91.3% of respondents taking part in remote work.
Turning Towards Distance Learning
Even with many educators using technology in the classroom, transitioning from a classroom setting to 100% distance learning with hardly any time to plan wasn’t the easiest task. While a good chunk of respondents felt prepared for this emergency, almost a fifth of respondents felt completely unprepared. Another 42% only felt somewhat prepared.
Remote Challenges & Resources for Overcoming Them
If you’re still feeling this way, you’re not alone. Online schooling presents challenges across a wide spectrum including communication, technology, socialization, health and wellness, and more.
The rest of the reports includes advice from real professionals and resources to help you overcome the many challenges associated with this COVID-19 outbreak. No matter what’s ahead or how long social distancing lasts, these tips should help you and your school district stay strong and continue to grow.
Head to the section below for the stories and resources most helpful to you!
For athletic staff
For teachers getting through this together – Additional resources for everybody
COVID-19 Information for Administrators
47% of all respondents indicated that their school administration is in charge of their districts’ COVID-19 response. With the entire school community looking to you for answers, you have a lot on your shoulders.
When you’re in charge of a school ecosystem during an international pandemic, communication is key. In fact, communication with employees was the second most popular coping mechanism amongst educators, right behind canceling major events.
The entire school community is under a lot of stress. The last thing you want is for critical messages to get lost. Here are there great tips for communication with your school districts during this public health crisis:
Reference state, national, and international health organizations
Schools are overwhelmingly turning towards government announcements and briefings when making decisions about their operations. When developing communication language, be sure to provide your community with links, data, and updates from multiple credible sources. You can start with the CDC’s webpage on COVID-19.
Develop a central location for communication
While you probably use a school website, phone calls, emails, and text for communication, you need to establish a central location to reduce confusion for your school community. Establishing a hub for communications – like a page on your website or student portals – is a great way to make sure that everyone is in the know. You might be using email and phone calls but update everything in one central place so school members can easily share updates. This is also a great place to communicate key messages on meal service, support services, and access to technology. This site has some great tips for building and maintaining your COVID-19 communication hub.
Open up real-time channels
Your teachers and students are probably using virtual conferencing, so what’s stopping you? If you’re not already, why not open up a channel of immediate communication with your school community? This could be in the form of one-way communication like a Facebook Live broadcast or a webinar, or you can hold a Zoom faculty meeting or parents meeting. It will give your community some extra peace of mind to see your face while you deliver COVID-19 messages. This guide from HubSpot will quickly teach you how to get up and running on Facebook Live.
Since relying on peers was another big source of information for educators, we also recommend checking in with state and local teachers’ and education associations. You can reach out to other districts as well, and even partner up to handle big decisions and planning around the COVID-19 together through a coordinated approach.
Handling Event Cancellations
A lot of these communications will have to be about event cancellations. With social distancing guidelines in effect at different levels throughout the country, 90% of responding education professionals have already cancelled spring sport seasons, class trips, proms, and even graduations.
As administrators, it’s your job to not only communicate these messages, but also communicate solutions. Here are some ideas to help honor the class of 2020 even if you can’t throw a traditional graduation ceremony.
If class and administrative communications are online, why can’t graduation be, too? While it will certainly be different, virtual graduations are the safest alternative. Students and administrators can give virtual speeches and you can still read off the names of those in the graduating class. Finalsite has a step-by-step guide for how to plan and execute a virtual graduation experience.
Drive-in movie graduation
Two school districts in Washington state are considering having an old-fashioned drive-in movie graduation for the class of 2020. For this type of graduation, students and families would stay in their cars to maintain social distancing. In some states, this will not be allowed. Be sure to pay attention to local executive orders.
While there is no telling when things will return to “normal,” or what “normal” will even look like, you can always postpone the graduation ceremony for the class of 2020. Some institutions have postponed until the fall, while others are playing it safer by waiting until winter. You can still mail diplomas or have contactless pickups closer to the original date!
Managing a Remote Work Force
The last main COVID-19 challenge facing school administrators is handling a remote staff. While 61% of respondents believe that employees are just as productive or even more productive than while at school, the flip side is that 35% believe that employees are actually less productive at home.
If you feel like members of your staff are less productive, disciplinary measures are probably not the answer. Remember, we’re all under a lot of stress right now. A lot of teachers are using new tools for the first time. It’s like they are learning to teach all over again. Productivity frustrations go both ways as well. One survey respondent wrote: “Schools are closed, and we have gone to distance learning. Our district seems lost and not sure how to support teachers and parents to do this.”
This is the perfect time to do onto others as you’d want done to you. Our advice is to provide staff with support, training, and ideas. If you have staff members that are doing extremely well, have them mentor those who are struggling. You should encourage your teachers to work together to share what’s working, what isn’t, and how to take care of themselves. It’s also a great idea to invite feedback and listen to the concerns of your staff.
Prioritizing Mental Health
Nearly half of all respondents are worried about low staff morale even once we eventually return to normal, so it’s important to remember that pandemic pedagogy is a marathon, not a sprint. Not only that, but it’s a marathon your employees haven’t trained for. Remember that they are dealing with managing their online classes, their families, and their physical and mental health all at the same time.
The following mental health resources are helpful for both administrators and staff:
Mental Health Tips
How to Improve Teacher Mental Health: This short article offers tipis for a few different areas regarding the importance of improving teacher mental health. It focuses on everything from building supportive cultures to handling workloads. We think it’s a good idea to go through this list during the pandemic and see how you can change things to make it less stressful for your staff.
Focus on Mindfulness
Focus on mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness and learning how to meditate can relieve a lot of stress for teachers during this time. This article breaks down the basics, while the UCSD Center for Mindfulness offers free audio guide downloads and COVID-19 specific resources.
MentalHealth.gov: The U.S. government’s MentalHealth.gov resource includes everything educators need to know about spotting mental health issues in students and how to deal with those instances.
Expert Resources for Everyone
School Psychologists: The National Association for School Psychologists (NASP) also has plenty of resources on school-based mental health services and how to help students.
COVID-19 Information for School Athletic Staff
Since not all students participate in athletic activities, it’s no surprise that athletic staff and programs have seen less of the spotlight during the COVID-19 outbreak. That doesn’t mean that your jobs are less important. On the contrary, the mission of athletic directors, trainers, and coaches is more relevant now more than ever. In fact, adopting new health and safety procedures and reviewing current ones are the third and fourth most popular coping mechanisms amongst respondents.
Since sports seasons are mostly postponed or cancelled, athletic staff now have some more time on their hands to review and create new health and safety procedures and plans for their student athletes and spectators. This can cover everything from return-to-play procedures to heat safety and dehydration prevention. This is a great time to review our Campus Safety Buying Guide to assess your current heat and storm safety procedures and learn how to improve them.
Resources for Athletic Staff During the COVID-19
While heat, weather, and training plans will help future student athletes, athletic trainers are still worried about current student athletes. With this virus happening at the end of winter sport seasons or the beginning of the spring season depending on your area, most districts had injuries of varying degrees amongst student athletes. There is also the overarching responsibility of keeping student-athletes healthy and in shape.
These tasks are extremely difficult to do remotely, but creative athletic trainers are getting the jobs done in some impactful ways, such as:
While you still can’t perform hands-on therapy, video conferencing is the next best thing. Not only can you see any swelling or injuries on student athletes, but you can show them exercises and watch them perform them as well.
Crafting team workouts
We’re sure you’ve noticed that some of your student athletes are still in communication with either you or your coaches about fitness. As trainers, you can come up with weekly workouts for teams to perform.
There are also plenty of free offers during this coronavirus pandemic for at-home workouts. This article from CNBC has an extensive list of workout services for students who like cardio, want to build strength, or just chill out. You can also find and use YouTube videos – which are free! You can even make your own. Here’s an article from Buffer on how to create a YouTube channel.
Make sure you take care of yourself, too!
The National Athletic Trainers’ Association AT Cares program
has a webpage with plenty of resources to help you take care of
COVID-19 Information for Teachers
There’s no doubt that transitioning to remote instruction has been extremely difficult for teachers. Even if you already used Google Classroom or other online learning tools, transitioning to100% remote instruction is a big change. “I feel like a brand-new teacher!” one respondent with 30+ years of experience under her belt remarked.
A majority of respondents (over 60%!) admitted that they felt only somewhat prepared or completely unprepared to handle remote teaching. Your feelings of unpreparedness might come from your unfamiliarity with certain technologies or uncertainty about how to assign grades fairly.
The following pages should help you feel more prepared and give you the knowledge and tools to make online learning easier for you and your students. Stanford University also has a hub for teachers, students, and parents full of resources like webinars, podcasts, and webpages. You can access their COVID-19 resources online.
Online Learning Basics
Online learning is such a broad, multifaceted topic on its own.
When you pair that with the current health crisis, you could fill
an encyclopedia and still not fit everything in. So we’re providing
a quick overview of all the major pieces and some links that can
help you get through this.
1. Connecting with students
2. Online lesson plans
The Cult of Pedagogy podcast has a much-more in-depth breakdown on this topic if you’d rather listen!
Connecting with Students
Communication is key when it comes to instructing your class during the COVID-19. While it’s impossible to teach via video to your students the entire school day, you must have clear, consistent, and accessible channels for regularly communicating with your students. To reach all students and create a cohesive online classroom experience, you need the following communications:
1. Outgoing communication: Think instructions or announcements delivered via Google docs or daily videos. Be consistent with these. If you do a daily video every morning with the day’s expectations, you can’t afford to miss a day! Google Classroom allows you to schedule videos and announcements to post at certain times, if you’d rather record everything at once.
2. Incoming communication: We all know that an important part of teaching is listening. Make sure there are avenues for students and parents to reach out and ask questions. This could be through email or phone calls.
3. Two-way communication: If you can manage it through video-conferencing (check out tools like Google Hangouts Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom) this communication path offers open dialogue. You can make these video-conferences mandatory, with your whole class, or close them off to smaller groups. You can also leave your camera on for pop-over time slots when any students can pop in, ask questions, or just chat. If you can’t use video conferencing, try discussion boards on Google Docs, Blackboard, Edmodo, or Microsoft Teams.
Be careful: If you opt for the video popovers, make sure your camera is off and muted if you are working on other tasks and think you’re alone. Another thing to check is the pitfalls of each video conferencing software. Whatever you do, make sure it is approved by your district.
Online Lesson Plans
You can’t use the same lessons that you did last year to teach this year online. It helps to give students choices in how they take in information and demonstrate learning when structuring lessons for online (more on that in grading). Here are some general lesson planning tips:
- Tips for Designing an Online Learning Experience Using the 5 Es Instructional Model, by Catlin Tucker
- Engaging Learners in Online Environments Utilizing Universal Design for Learning Principles from eLearn Magazine
We’ve also included some online lesson plans from Earth Networks and the Department of Education that should help you if you run out of ideas during the COVID-19. Earth Networks is an official partner of the GLOBE program; a NASA based education program. You can learn more about GLOBE at www.globe.gov.
- 3 Remote-Friendly Science Lesson Plans: https://www.earthnetworks.com/blog/3-remote-friendly-lesson-plans/
- Department of Defense: Learn about careers in STEM fields
- Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics: Kids’ Zone
- Department of Energy: Games and Activities, Virtual Field Trips to National Energy Labs
- Environmental Protection Agency: Games, Quizzes, and Videos About the Environment
- The Library of Congress: Presentations and Activities to Help Students Learn About History
- NASA: Interactive Lessons about Space, Earth, Solar System and Universe; Lessons from Astronauts about Living in Space; STEM Activities for Students of All Ages
- The Kennedy Center: Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems; Tour the Kennedy Center with The Pigeon
- The Smithsonian: Free Smithsonian STEM Games and Simulations; Meet the Animals of the National Zoo; 3D Exhibits and Virtual Tours; 10 Museums You Can Virtually Visit
- NOAA: Use Real-Time Ocean Data to Explore the Environment
You know that your classroom is full of different learners. Some easily adapt to new situations while others struggle. Your students come from different families with different educational, financial, and health backgrounds. You also know that some of your students might be dealing with real trauma in regard to losses from the COVID-19.
So how on earth do you grade them fairly at this time? It’s best to offer options. Remember: Different students show they’ve retained knowledge in different ways. Here are some options:
- Rubrics: While explaining your assignment, brainstorm with students to create a rubric they’ll be graded off of. That way, they know exactly what is expected of them
- Books: Have students create a children’s book, textbook, or comic through tools like Book Creator to show what they’ve learned
- Infographics: For more visual students, an infographic might be a better way to demonstrate knowledge. They can use free tools like Piktochart or Canva
- Podcasts or Videos: Your presenter-types will love explaining what they’ve learned in their own podcast or video
Getting Through This Together
Over half of our respondents indicated they believe this crisis will affect their schools until somewhere between August and June 2020.
While that might seem like too long, one of our respondents really put it best when they commented: “It is hard not being in the regular routine and I miss working with everyone, but I’d rather be safe and get this pandemic over with!”
With each day that passes, we are one day closer to heading back into the classrooms. It’s impossible to return to business as usually once we’re back at school, because of all the new skills and coping mechanisms you and your colleagues are learning. Schools are on the front lines of this war against the COVID-19. Give yourself breaks, ask for help, and remember: It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Additional Resources From Your Friends at Earth Networks
If there is any way we here at Earth Networks can help during this stressful time, please let us know. Here are some FREE resources that we think might help you in depending on your position:
- Weather 101 Resources to help students learn about different weather events
- Free Access to our Weather App, Sferic Connect, to help you keep an eye on weather conditions and test safety procedures
- 3 remote-friendly lesson plans that you can use with your students that won’t stress anyone out!
- 30-day subscription to our Daily Weather Outlook forecast emails from our team of expert meteorologists