Weekly NewsBrief 3/30/20-4/5/20
California school unions, district leaders pledge to cooperate on coronavirus challenges – By John Fensterwald, Edsource
At Gov. Gavin Newsom’s urging, school labor and management groups agreed Wednesday on principles to guide them as they switch to distance learning and continue providing meals for students in the months ahead.
The 3-page “framework for labor-management collaboration” is not a mandate. By itself it won’t resolve acrimonious disputes over employee expectations, safety issues, hours and benefits that have slowed progress in distance learning in districts like Yuba City Unified and Sacramento City Unified. However, the document’s preface says, it could “spur collaboration” so that districts can get on with confronting the havoc created by the coronavirus.
“All districts and exclusive representatives should work together to find the best path for the students, the staff and communities,” it states.
Signers include the major associations representing school administrators, school boards and business administrators, and unions representing teachers and support staff of hourly employees.
Amid coronavirus crisis, Newark school board votes to suspend policies, empower superintendent – By Patrick Wall, Chalkbeat
In an extraordinary move responding to the raging coronavirus pandemic, the Newark school board will suspend certain policies and grant sweeping authority to the superintendent.
The elected board voted unanimously Thursday to temporarily waive any “bylaws, policies, and procedures” as needed so the board can continue conducting business during the public health crisis, which has led to a statewide school shutdown in New Jersey that Gov. Phil Murphy said could last “weeks to months.”
The board also authorized Superintendent Roger León to take “any and all action necessary and appropriate” to continue operating the district during the crisis, according to the motion the board approved Thursday, which states that León’s actions are still subject to board approval.
Teachers can help ease parents into new role as educators – By Shawna de la Rosa, Education Dive
Whether their child is learning from a teacher, a coach or even a ski instructor, parents understand that sometimes kids listen more when instructions come from other adults. With school closures, that option is mostly out of the question. Melody Jones, who homeschooled her own children, told New York Magazine parents need to start the daunting process by getting organized and coming up with a workable structure to the day.
Jones suggests rather than trying to introduce new curriculum, consider teaching children life skills like cooking or how to clean a toilet. Nature walks that maintain social distance can be a good way to get outside for an hour to learn about plants, while visiting a cemetery can include math and history lessons when children calculate ages and deduce trends based on dates of death. They could determine, for example, who may have died of the Spanish Flu.
Before diving too deep into any lessons though, educators should also encourage parents to validate the changes to their own lives as well as those of their children. For many students, this abrupt change may be scary. Consistency is key to lessen the impact of the changes. Pre-existing screen time rules, for example, should remain, but flexibility could be included during the crisis, clinical psychologist Jacqueline Sperling wrote in the Harvard Health Blog.