Back in early March, we published a new vision for where we wanted to take InsideSchools in the next 1,000 days. Within a week, Covid-19 forced the entire NYC school system to shift to remote learning. So we switched gears too and, for three months, we have provided tons of new content meant to help families and the public make sense of what was going on. We launched our “Extra Help with InsideSchools” podcast, and we increased our blog content based on questions from parents and teachers. We also completed updates to school profiles for all 200+ Bronx elementary schools--and we published a 50 page report reviewing the City’s response to the pandemic, interviewing four dozen stakeholders and making recommendations for officials and families.
As we approach the end of June, we must ask a deceptively simple two-word question: Now what?
Well, we know that the fall is going to be full of uncertainties. There will most likely be some form of remote or blended learning in place. Public health concerns alone will almost certainly prevent all 1.1 million students and 75,000 teachers from returning to school simultaneously. School admissions policies and procedures will look differently than in the past (i.e. school visits are probably off the table). The City’s efforts to create a more equitable public school system via culturally responsive-sustaining education (CR-SE) could well be stunted by blended learning models at schools.
What role does InsideSchools play in all this?
Families in the City are going to need more than school reviews in the fall. We know that. Parents are going to need an ongoing supportive community. That’s why we are creating InsideSchools+ this summer. InsideSchools+ will be an online community space devoted to helping parents navigate the uncertainty before us. We will create affinity groups based on shared interests where families can learn from each other, like Middle School Parents.
In addition, we will create online courses for parents interested in receiving more formalized guidance on a range of topics, like How to Apply to NYC Elementary Schools.
The InsideSchools team will slow down this summer in terms of updates and content output. But know that behind the scenes, we are working to create ways to increase our support to NYC parents and communities for the fall. And when September arrives, we will be here with you and for you to tackle whatever comes.