Schools Are Closing – There Is a WAY For Learning To Continue

Mar 15, 2020 by

Learning does not need to end simply because your school has been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Schools and universities are closing around the globe and here at home because of the virus. 

https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/09/us/coronavirus-university-college-classes/index.html

As cases of coronavirus continue to be identified in an effort to stem its spread, the result is that three hundred million students can no longer attend their “physical “ schools. According to the United Nations, 22 countries on three continents have closed schools because of the virus.

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/03/05/812557984/as-schools-close-due-to-coronavirus-nearly-300-million-kids-arent-in-class

Daily, news stories tell us Tom Hanks and his wife diagnosed with coronavirus, collegiate and professional sports seasons now over for now – all in the attempt to contain the virus. People across the country and the globe are beginning to pay more attention to what the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated a global pandemic and President Trump has declared is a National Emergency. 

According to an analysis by EdWeek, the spread of coronavirus has compelled hundreds of K-12 schools in the U.S. to close, affecting more than 850,000, students. These numbers are certain to increase in the coming days.

https://www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/map-coronavirus-and-school-closures.html

Closing a K-12 school or school district is a painful decision. Our schools dispense not just education, but food and other social services that many of our children and families rely on. Closing school is more than just a public health decision – poor children will miss the most nutritious meal of their day and are unlikely to have connectivity and technology in their homes, let alone adult supervision or the means that might allow them to continue their learning outside the confines of a school building. Dropout rates may also rise, particularly after protracted closures. 

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/03/05/812557984/as-schools-close-due-to-coronavirus-nearly-300-million-kids-arent-in-class

Many universities and schools are now offering e-learning/online services to help fill the void. Quality e- learning IS available.

There is a WAY 

I know a bit about blended and e-learning environments, having written an internationally- recognized report on the topic while serving as Assistant to the President at Wayne State University in Detroit and after having served as Michigan’s State Superintendent of Schools. The report, The New Education (R)evolution: Exploring E-Learning Reforms for Michigan is here:

There are a series of policy recommendations in this report that are as relevant today as when I first wrote them 15 years ago. Some of our schools have embraced this technology and are partially ready to continue online learning for their students during this crisis. Sadly, many are not. 

Even though I wrote this report nearly two decades ago, and I still have people contacting me from around the globe requesting a copy or asking me to speak to these issues and the impact of my recommendations on schools today. The reports points out we cannot lead in the 21st century without casting off the anchors of archaic laws, policies, and beliefs that bind us to 20th century education models. Sadly, too few have adopted the potential technology that might offer our schools and children in ways that prepare them for the future.  

Parents and students are now panicking, wondering how they are going to keep up with their studies. There is a way. With technology, learning has become ubiquitous. Education is no longer confined to the 6-hour school day, within the four walls of a school building or a classroom or between the bindings of a physical book. 

Our students are facing an uncertain future that will defy predictability. Will they be ready? It is our responsibility to assure that they are.

Leaders who Lead

Two public school leaders I met at that time, Beth Taylor and Glen Taylor, went on to create a dynamic blended of e-learning – an educational company, Centric Learning and WAY American Schools that work with public and private schools in offering project-based learning models that work in both face-to-face and through cloud-based learning. WAY American School Online – Learn an time, anywhere @ https://wayonline.net/

WAY was founded by these two educators to provide a personalized learning experience for all students. WAY American Schools offer an innovative approach to education that utilized state- of- the-art technology and project-based learning in alignment with state and national standards. Their mission is to change lives by creating engaging and encouraging educational opportunities for all young people. Their vision is to make every young person a ‘Hero”.

Blending my lifelong interest in China and seeing education as a bridge to better understanding between our two nations, I have spent the past two years creating WAY American school partnerships with schools in China. When the coronavirus impacted China we were able to move our highly qualified American teachers to safe locations outside of China while continuing learning using the Hero e-learning platform that carries the rigorous WAY American curriculum into the students home. Learning continued, without skipping a beat. 

Learning Continues 

Schools, parents and students who want to continue learning during this crisis that is impacting us all locally and globally can tap into the knowledge that WAY has gained over the past decade. They have created and are operating an e-learning platform, with a rich and expansive curriculum tied to national standards that was developed by educators for students.  They are 

internationally accredited, meaning their diploma is recognized and accepted by over 70 nations around the world, including the U.S. 

Today’s students increasingly expect a learning experience that is relevant and authentic. They require skills and knowledge that will enable success in a new world that is global, agile, and entrepreneurial. WAY American Schools is providing a future education – today. 

For more information about how to partner with WAY American School as a school board member, superintendent, principal, teacher, parent, or student contact WAY at: www.wayonline.net Or call: 1-800-201-9781

Tom Watkins is the former Michigan State Superintendent of Schools, 2001-2005, Michigan State Mental Health Chief Deputy and Director. 1983-90.,

and former Special Assistant to the President of Wayne State University for Public Schools Initiatives. 

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