Guide to Extending Learning
During School Closures
Unprecedented school closures due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are sending many
educators into uncharted territory. In this short guide, we’ve gathered tips and resources for
communicating with sta, students, and parents and for building and implementing a plan for
e-learning to keep students on track during both long- and short-term school closures.
The rst step to determining if and how your students will continue their learning while away
from school is to understand whether they have access to an Internet connection and a device
that they can use to access online learning materials, communications, and possibly live online
learning experiences. Use this information to determine how to deploy e-learning and whether
you will need to distribute devices and/or Internet hotspots to ensure that all students have
equitable access.
The easiest way to do this is to send out a short survey to parents. If your school or district does
not already have a survey tool in place, consider using a free tool such as Google Forms. The
survey does not need to be complicated; in fact, if you are working within a tight timeline, you’ll
likely get more participation if your survey is short and simple.
Consider including these three questions in your survey:
YES
1
2
3
NO
Understand Technology Access
If many of the students don’t have access to an Internet connection at home, and your district isn’t
able to provide hotspots or devices to all students who need them, consider reaching out to local
libraries, community organizations, or businesses for help.
What type of internet-connected device will your learner have access to?
Will your students need to share devices?
More than two students
will share one device
In the event of a school closure, will your learner have access to a device and an Internet
connection to participate in online learning activities and receive communication from teachers?
TIP
1. 2. 3.
Each student will
have a device to use
Two students will
share one device
Notes
Item 1
Item 2
Item 3
As you move forward with putting together a plan for e-learning, start by taking inventory of the
online programs that your district currently uses to determine how they can t into your online
learning plan.
Take Inventory of Your Current Resources
How Edmentum Can Help
The recent reports of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have led to the closure of
many schools and districts globally. Edmentum takes this situation very seriously, and
we are committed to helping you prepare for what’s next. We are oering a variety
of free resources to schools and districts aected by this closure. Learn more on our
program access resource page.
Use your online learning resource audit to determine whether you currently have the sucient
online learning tools to deploy e-learning, or whether you need to obtain more resources. As
you explore your options, consider free learning tools such as Khan Academy and TeacherTube,
resources featuring the capability for teachers to record video lessons themselves to share with
students, and online learning programs that can be purchased.
Program Features
Resource Type
Skill Practice
Instruction
Supplemental Learning
Assessment
How many licenses are available for
students?
Which grade levels can use the
program?
Do teachers know how to use the
program?
Do students know how to use the
program?
Is it possible to get sta and
students up and running on the
program before the school closure?
Sample Audit Worksheet
Program Title
Program Title
Program Title
Moving from the structure of a traditional classroom to the exibility of learning in an online
environment can be challenging for students and parents. Set up a schedule to give students
guidance on how to spend their time. As you plan the schedule, you will also need to determine
how much time students will spend in synchronous activities —interacting with their teacher and
peers in real time— versus asynchronous activities, working independently at their own pace.
The proportion of synchronous to asynchronous activities will impact the exibility students and
teachers have within the schedule. The more households within your district communities in which
students will be sharing devices, the greater proportion of asynchronous activities your schedule
will need to include.
Check-ins:
If students will mostly be working asynchronously, be sure to build time into the
schedule for them to check in with their teacher and peers. Consider scheduling
a morning meeting in which the teacher can review with students what they
will be working on for the day, provide direct instruction, or engage the class
in a discussion or even a game. Also consider including an additional short,
daily afternoon check-in to discuss progress, answer questions, and share
announcements. When scheduling check-ins be sure to stagger the times for
dierent grade levels to accommodate households with shared devices. For
hosting the check-ins, consider tools like Zoom, which has a free version, and
Google Hangouts Meet.
Oce hours:
Oce hours are times during the day that the teacher will be online and
available to connect live with students to answer questions and provide
tutoring, intervention, or other instructional support. As with check-ins, the
number of oce hours that teachers need to host will depend on how much
time students will be working synchronously versus asynchronously. The more
students will be working asynchronously, the more oce hours teachers will
need to oer to support students.
Establish a Daily Schedule
Be sure that your schedule includes:
It’s unlikely that students will be able to complete the amount of work that they would normally do
during an on-campus school day. Younger students may not be able to receive support from an
adult at home, and older students may have limited time for schoolwork due to having to babysit
younger siblings.
TIP
Breaks:
Just as students need to take breaks while at school, they also need to be sure
to take breaks from working online. Build short breaks into the schedule and
be sure that parents and students understand why it’s important to take them
so that they take advantage of that time away from devices.
Physical activity:
Physical activity is built into the school day for most students through P.E. class
and recess. Build a time for physical activity into your e-learning day schedule,
and provide suggested activities for students to complete to make sure they are
getting adequate and appropriate physical activity.
Subject Blocks:
Block time during the day for students to work on certain subjects. For
longer term closures, consider longer subject blocks every other day to allow
students longer periods of focused time.
Catch-up time:
Students will inevitably have an activity that they are unable to complete in the
time allotted. Building a block of about 30 minutes into the daily schedule for
catching up will help students stay on track.
Create an attendance policy:
For your e-learning days to count toward state-mandated attendance
requirements, be sure to develop a policy for determining attendance. Some
districts consider students present if they complete a certain percentage of the
day’s assignments; for other districts, students are considered present when
they attend scheduled synchronous activities. Whatever method you develop,
make sure that it is in compliance with state guidelines.
Establish a Daily Schedule
Notes
Set Expectations for Sta
It’s important to set clear expectations for teachers and other sta members about their duties
during the school closure. Administrators, teachers, and other sta members should work
together to dene expectations and then publish a resource that details what specic tasks sta
members in each role should complete in order to carry out the learning plan and comply with
school, district, and state guidelines for e-learning days.
Teachers Administration and Support Other District Sta
All Teachers
Post activities to Google
Classroom by 8:30 AM
Prepare online lessons
Hold oce hours each day
Submit attendance based on
assignments completed
ESL, GT, Special Education
Teachers
Provide accommodations
based on IEP goals
Provide feedback to students
Partner with classroom
teachers to provide additional
assignments
Provide instructional support
to parents and students
Principals, Assistant Principals,
Central Oce Administration
Ensure communication of
school closure
Engage in online planning
meetings
Engage in professional
learning
Support and monitor teachers
Maintain availability to answer
questions from teachers,
students, parents, and the
community
Instructional Coaches, Librarians,
Administrative Assistants
Provide online professional
learning
Contact students who haven’t
completed work
Collaborate with teachers for
communication support
Paraprofessionals
Collaborate with classroom
teachers to support online
learning
Bus Drivers, Food Service, School
Nurses
Participate in online
professional learning
sessions
Sample Expectations Chart
Set aside time for sta training
Even the most tech savvy teachers need training on eectively teaching and communicating with
students and parents in a fully online environment. You may feel like you don’t have time for
sta training, but if school must close for an extended period of time, the time spent on training
will be well worth it. While conducting a training of at least one full day in person with faculty will
work best, if your school closure is imminent or has already begun, host a full day online training,
along with shorter follow-up sessions in the ensuing days to make sure teachers are equipped to
support students.
Be sure to include these topics in your teacher training:
Prepare Students and Sta for E-Learning
Prepare students and parents for learning at home
E-learning can’t be successful unless students and parents know what is expected of them
and know how to access their online assignments and resources. If school is still in session,
have educators walk students through logging in to their online platforms and accessing their
assignments. Your district could also host an on-campus e-learning practice day in which
students work through the e-learning day assignments on the e-learning day schedule. The more
practice that students have, the more likely they will be successful at home.
Once your e-learning plan is in place, share the details with parents and students. In your
communication be sure to include:
n
Online learning platform logins
n
A daily schedule
n
Assignment completion expectations
n
Instructions for accessing online
programs
n
Attendance policies
n
Using the online learning programs that
the district will be using
n
Best practices for teaching in an online
environment
n
Best practices for keeping students and
parents engaged during online learning
n
Logistics and schedule for the e-learning
plan
In addition to communicating policies to parents through notes
sent home, email, and text messages, host live webinars in which
sta members can explain policies, demonstrate online programs,
and answer questions live. Parents will appreciate having the
additional details and the ability to have their questions answered,
and you will be able to share the recording so that parents who
were not able to attend live still have access to the information.
An unexpected school closure will require communication breadth and frequency that you
may not be accustomed to. Use any and all available channels to keep students, parents, and
community members informed.
Phone system: If you have an automatic call system in place, call or text
families with updates as they are available. This is the best way to distribute a
time-sensitive message, and it will likely have the most reach because nearly all
families have telephones, even those who don’t have Internet service.
Email: Concise, direct emails are one of the best ways to communicate with
families and sta members. Those who use email will check it frequently
in search of updates. Focus on clear and compelling subject lines and email
headers to improve the chances that recipients open and read the message.
Also include a clear and prominent call to action if there is something that the
reader or recipient needs to do. In every email you send, be sure to include links
to your website or other resources where more information can be found.
Website: Your website will be the rst place most families go for information.
Use an eye-catching callout near the top of the homepage and link to a webpage
that contains relevant news and updates. To limit frustration and confusion,
make sure that visitors don’t have to search for what they are looking for.
Communicate with Sta and Parents
Here are tips and best practices for using dierent communication tools:
Include contact
information
for personnel
families should
reach out
to for more
information.
Keep content
updated.
1
3
2
4
Consolidate
content into
easy-to-
understand
sections.
Make the
menu
options
intuitive
and easy.
Website tips:
5600 W 83rd Street
Suite 300, 8200 Tower
Bloomington, MN 55437
©2020 EDMENTUM, INC.
edmentum.com
800.447.5286
info@edmentum.com
AC165-56 031720
Communicate With Sta and Parents
Social media:
Utilizing the power of social media to share information about a school
closure can be incredibly eective if educators and families follow your
district’s social media accounts. Through the power of easy sharing, messages
can travel far very quickly. One thing to keep in mind when leveraging
social media is that you will receive inquiries through those channels, so it’s
important to have someone available to monitor the accounts and respond
to questions and requests. If your district has not built an audience through
social media, you may still want to post information to those accounts; just be
aware that you will also need to use other methods of communication.
Letter Template
Communicate with Teachers
& Sta
Letter Template
Communicate with Parents,
Migration to eLearning
Letter Template
Communicate with Parents,
Closing Announcement Only
Dear Parents and Guardians:
Thank you for your continued patience during this evolving situation. As with all our work, student and
staff safety is our highest priority. Due to recent events with the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in
the United States, we are taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of illness.
As we negotiate this uncharted territory, we believe that the time has come for our district community
to make an important decision.
[School closure details with list of specific sites and dates affected]
Great care and research went into this decision; however, we regret the hardships this will cause for
some of our families. At this time, we believe that is the right step to take for the health and safety of
our families, employees, and the community at large especially to protect our students and
employees who are immunosuppressed or at greater risk due to age and other reasons.
We will use this time that school is closed to develop the following measures:
Identify immunosuppressed and other at-risk students and employees
Finalize daily systematic approach to disinfect all schools and buses
Develop flexible and remote learning options for all K-12 students
Coordinate food service options for our children in need
In the coming days, we will communicate more information about Special Education and Student
Services, including Counseling, Gifted, Nursing, and ESL.
Because of the magnitude of this decision, I ask that you please reach out to your building principal with
individual requests and needs. They will serve as the first contacts for funneling communications
throughout the district.
We are committed to providing you with timely and accurate updates on the best recommendations
and guidance from our public health authorities. We’ll continue monitoring the situation weekly and
proceed on a week-by-week basis.
In the meantime, we encourage everyone to access the latest, most accurate information about COVID-
19 from the World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-
2019/advice-for-public) and the CDC (www.cdc.gov/covid-19).
Sincerely,
XXX
[School/District Website Link]
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Thank you for your continued patience during this evolving situation. As with all our work, student and staff safety is our
highest priority. Due to recent events with the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States, we are taking
the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of illness.
As we negotiate this uncharted territory, we believe that the time has come for our district community to make an
important decision.
[School closure details with list of specific sites and dates affected]
Great care and research went into this decision; however, we regret the hardships this will cause for some of our
families. At this time, we believe that is the right step to take for the health and safety of our families, employees, and
the community at large especially to protect our students and employees who are immunosuppressed or at greater
risk due to age and other reasons.
Learning however, will continue at home via a distance or online learning model leveraging technology programs. We
are committed to ensuring continuous and meaningful learning for all. You can feel confident that these e-learning days
will:
Ensure equal access to the learning and required materials, including technology
Support different learning and teaching needs, including the ability to provide differentiated instruction as well
as one-on-one support for students who need it
Provide training to staff, students, and parents and guardians on how systems work and what expectations the
district has
Support tracking of attendance for both students and staff
Leverage only secure systems that will not allow for the release of protected student or staff information
Your child’s teacher will provide additional details about how learning will continue. Because of the magnitude of this
decision, I ask that you please reach out to your building principal with individual requests and needs. They will serve as
the first contacts for funneling communications throughout the district.
We are committed to providing you with timely and accurate updates on the best recommendations and guidance from
our public health authorities. We’ll continue monitoring the situation weekly and proceed on a week-by-week basis.
In the meantime, we encourage everyone to access the latest, most accurate information about COVID-19 from the
World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public) and
the CDC (www.cdc.gov/covid-19).
Sincerely,
XXX
[School/District Website Link]
Dear Teachers and Staff,
Thank you for your continued patience during this evolving situation. As with all our work, student and staff safety is our
highest priority. Due to recent events with the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States, we are taking
the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of illness.
As we negotiate this uncharted territory, we believe that the time has come for our district community to make an
important decision.
[School closure details with list of specific sites and dates affected]
Great care and research went into this decision; however, we regret the hardships this will cause for some of our
families. At this time, we believe that is the right step to take for the health and safety of our families, employees, and
the community at large especially to protect our students and employees who are immunosuppressed or at greater
risk due to age and other reasons.
We are prepared to transition from the classroom to the cloud, to move teaching and learning beyond the four walls of
the classroom during this time of need. In order to continue to cultivate positive, productive learning environments for
our students, the following expectations should be met:
Continue to leverage familiar online tools for continuous ongoing learning. These include, but are not limited to:
[list digital programs here]
Communicate clearly and regularly with students. This could include sending emails to summarize learning,
sending recorded videos, engaging with students via chat, or holding online video “office hours”.
Check in to provide progress and support meaningful engagement via assignment feedback, posting of grades,
and other practices already used by teacher today.
As this situation evolves, we are committed to providing you with timely and accurate updates on the best
recommendations and guidance from our public health authorities. We’ll continue monitoring the situation weekly and
proceed on a week-by-week basis.
In the meantime, we encourage everyone to access the latest, most accurate information about COVID-19 from the
World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public) and
the CDC (www.cdc.gov/covid-19).
Sincerely,
XXX
[School/District Website Link]
Letter Template:
We’ve put together three letter templates specically for communicating about closures related
to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). These are available in Microsoft Word so that you can
customize them for your specic needs.
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