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Ed Department’s National Safe School Reopening Summit

The U.S. Department of Education held a virtual National Safe School Reopening Summit on Wednesday for teachers, broader school and district staff, and education leaders to discuss COVID-19’s impact on K-12, and to share their experiences and best practices as schools nationwide phase back into in-person learning.

3 takeaways from the summit

Naaz Modan, K-12 Dive |

  • Communicate and forge relationships

Many participants stressed the need for transparency and communication with all stakeholders, but especially parents.

“Our connection with families is much stronger than it ever has been, in terms of our teachers in the remote space, online, talking to parents and students every single day and really getting to know the families and understand the challenges,” said Shari Obrenski, president of the Cleveland Teachers Union.

  • Collaborate — even when you don’t want to

In many instances, education leaders noted the importance of working together within and outside the school community.

“We have groups that represent different stakeholders coming together to problem-solve,” said Obrenski, adding that it’s important to “do the messy work” of talking through the challenges.

“You can get angry with each other, and it’s tough, but it’s so worth it on the other side,” she said.

  • Get creative and be consistent with messaging, plans

Leaders also shared the varied and sometimes creative ways in which they are adopting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines — from using monster stickers on the floor to mark social distancing requirements for elementary students to teaching them how to do a “zombie walk” as a method of remaining apart.

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