Dive Brief:

  • Backup plans have become all the more critical during COVID-19 remote learning periods, serving to prevent gaps and smooth out students’ experiences during service disruptions or teacher absences, as Jeff Ertzberger, the director of technology for the Watson College of Education at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, details for Edutopia.
  • Teachers can pre-write emails to students, parents and even other educators that can be sent in their absence, which would optimally include links to other activities students could do for the day, like review sheets, games, or pre-created instructional videos followed by an assignment. 
  • An email to a substitute teacher can include a typical schedule for the day, procedures of the class, and the contact information of other teachers or administrators the substitute can reach out to with questions. 

Dive Insight:

With remote learning plans in place for many districts this school year, disruptions such as connectivity issues and sick days may still come up. Throughout these disruptions, schools must maintain flexibility and continuity in education for students and staff.

To better prepare for the unexpected, teachers can create backup activities and document lesson plans so students can find the materials and assignments they need in the event of a service issue or sick day. Educators could, for example, take advantage of project-based learning options by sending students into their own backyards or neighborhood parks for work that dovetails with lessons on botany or biology. This step also helps students who may have accessibility issues access materials at their convenience and set their own pace.

Educators can also support students through weekly virtual office hours set aside to offer instructional and SEL support outside of class time. 

With enough flexibility, backup plans can create various opportunities and entry points for students to find the learning materials and support they need, should unexpected bumps in the road arise for teachers or staff. 

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