COVID-19 Response

Guide Lays Road to School Reopenings

The National Labor Management Partnership Coalition, a loose group of education organizations, has issued a short report to help schools plan their reopening in the fall. The seven-page guide advised the use of a "collaboration matrix" involving administrators, district staff and teachers and community members for decision-making.

The organizations that make up the partnership are the School Superintendents Association (AASA), the National Education Association, the National School Boards Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the Consortium for Educational Change and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Among the advice to districts: to form a task force with five working groups, each tackling one segment of the planning:

  • Public health and safety;

  • School operations and logistics;

  • Teaching and learning;

  • Equity and family needs; and

  • Social-emotional health

As an example, the public health and safety working group was advised to focus on such issues as:

  • What screening measures to take for identifying COVID symptoms and how those would be done;

  • What happens when somebody at the school tests positive;

  • What scenario would trigger a given school to close and move back to online instruction;

  • How communication with families would be handled, especially among those who have had contact with confirmed cases;

  • Whether there would there be sufficient personal protective equipment to keep educators and support people safe;

  • Whether masks would be required for everybody;

  • How daily and deep cleaning would be handled without laying the entire burden on custodial staff;

  • How to handle safety concerns from teachers and others "without fear of retaliation or discipline"; and

  • What the costs for everything would be and how those would be covered.

"Our nation's students deserve a well-designed, thoughtful plan for reopening school buildings," said Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, in the guide. "The nation’s families are counting on all of us--administrators, educators, and community members--and we must work together to keep them safe."

"School board members and other public-school leaders have managed a herculean task to serve students during the pandemic," added Anna Maria Chávez, head of the National School Boards Association. "With the new school year approaching, it is imperative to provide public education leaders with key questions and options to consider so they can prepare their buildings so students are safe when they are able to return.

The guide is openly available through the National Education Association's website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.