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Leading Education Groups, Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools Release a Blueprint to Help Schools

"Back to School Instructional Program Scheduling Map" includes multiple ideas for addressing special education compliance, staffing teams, and student schedules given health, safety, and social distancing requirements while prioritizing equity

BROOKLYN, N.Y., June 24, 2020 -- Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools (LAB) is announcing the launch of its new "Back to School Instructional Program Scheduling Map" to serve as a resource for schools nationwide to begin to plan where, how, when, with whom, and in what manner students will learn this fall.

(PRNewsfoto/Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools/Public Impact/PBDW Architects/TNTP)

The comprehensive Scheduling Map is created to help schools as they begin to work to integrate new health and safety requirements in the COVID-19 era, while embedding education equity at the core of school reopening plans. The Map explores early directions in staff scheduling, class configurations, and planning considerations for general education and specialized settings, including those for special education such as ICT classroom, 15:1 and 12:1:1. It also explores innovative human capital solutions such as the use of community educators and success coaches to support socio-emotional learning for students. Given social distancing and limited in-person class time, it emphasizes practical questions and approaches, including:

  • How can we ensure decisions regarding how to educate students while abiding by health and safety guidelines are focused on meeting the needs of each individual?

  • How might we ensure that students with disabilities are provided with high-quality supports and services?

  • How might we put students' needs at the forefront to ensure we have the right staff specializations, spaces, and modes of learning available to educate our students with disabilities?

  • When schools reopen, how might we staff classrooms and organize schedules to provide excellent teaching for all students, and effective support for teachers?

  • How might we achieve optimal staffing levels given the new budget and public health realities? How can schools make time for collaboration, planning, and leadership?

  • Which types of learning are best suited for which delivery format?

  • How can we leverage community educators and out-of-school time programs?

"Our goal is to make the return to school better for all students," said Eric Tucker, co-founder and executive director, LAB, an innovative cluster of charter schools based in downtown Brooklyn. "The Instructional Program Scheduling Map provides a framework to support clear communication between administrators, educators, families, and scholars so that our school community can work collaboratively and inclusively to promote safety, health, well-being, and learning when our school reopens this fall."

The Scheduling Map, which reflects insights and addresses early concerns from public health experts, students, teachers, parents, guardians, and schools, was developed through a collaboration with InnovateEDU and several partners: Dezudio, PBDW Architects, EdTogether, the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools (NCSECS), Public Impact, TNTP, and the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at ASU.

Schools face complex new challenges as they plan to reopen for the 2020-21 school year. Many students will have experienced trauma, as well as significant academic setbacks as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns, and remote learning. When they return to school this fall, they will need more academic and social-emotional support than they have received in the past.

Building on Brooklyn Lab's Version 1 Back to Facilities Tool Kit, this initial version of the Instructional Program Scheduling Map responds to guidance on social distancing for reopening. LAB developed this blueprint because the school, like others schools around the country, is working through how best to rearrange teams of educators and groups of students to ensure that those receiving in-person instruction can do so safely.

LAB Director of Academics Bennison Ntsakey explains the design process centering around the following core questions: "How might we use the expertise of leading talent and special education organizations to help address the complex questions around school scheduling and preparation during COVID-19? How might we keep student equity at the center of our plans as we prepare for the fall semester?"

As a laboratory school devoted to reimagining education for its diverse scholars and school community, LAB is using these questions to focus on the needs of medically fragile family members, individuals with disabilities, people of color, and other groups who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

As a founding partner of the Educating All Learners Alliance—a new coalition of disability, civil rights, and education focused organizations dedicated to educating all learners during the COVID-19 humanitarian disaster—LAB will be distributing the Scheduling Map through this network and beyond.

The Scheduling Map aligns with standardized health and safety recommendations from education leaders, as well as LAB's own goals to build equity into the school reopening design - by ensuring that school practices, policies, and preparation reflect those most vulnerable to being overlooked.