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According to the head National Education Union*, schools in local lockdown areas could move to operating part-time within weeks, switching to a rota system – where pupils are taught on two weeks on, two weeks off basis – if the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise. Elliot Gowans, SVP International at D2L, a leading edtech supplier for schools and universities across the UK, offers the following statement:

“Calls from the National Education Union for schools to go part time have underscored the one constant that has been with us since schools were closed last Spring: uncertainty. Teachers are admirably plugging the learning gap that the lockdowns created and managing the rapid evolution of measures the government has necessarily introduced to fight the pandemic.

“Nobody wants to relive the experience of the last few months. To get beyond day-to-day crisis management, any spare bandwidth should be used for building resilience in schools. Closures will be a feature of the education experience for some time. Consistency in experience across jurisdictions is critical to ensure standards are met and learning loss is mitigated. Building resiliency depends on consistency for digital infrastructure too. A patchwork of solutions deployed by teachers might be fine during a crisis but not for the long-term. There is an opportunity now to learn from our collective experience and invest in building a resilient system that guarantees continuity of learning to the families counting on them.

“To be effective and future-proof, these investments must focus on training, technology, and digital infrastructure. While there is no substitute for teacher-led, in-class education, the reality of the situation is that  it will not be readily available the way it used to be. New models for learning – hybrid, fully online, other learning methodologies – should be enabled and should be supported across jurisdictions to enable at least some degree of educational continuity, even if through unfamiliar means. Mandates are not necessary, but cohesion and consistency are, and that can be accomplished by thinking differently about how technology is developed and deployed across systems.

“Schools need partners to help them – rather than plug and play solutions that assume years of developing pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning can be lifted into pre-set solutions. Teachers need to know how to use technology and how it can support them rather than replace them or alter what they have always brought to the classroom. If we focus on building resiliency together, we can make it happen and create a new normal better than the one we all long to return to.”

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