Creating an Equitable Framework for Out-of-School Learning During the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis

April 6, 2020

As the impact of COVID-19 on all aspects of life continues to unfold, ForwARd Arkansas applauds the efforts of parents, local educators and state officials who stepped up to quickly provide continued education for students despite closed schools.

We will continue to share updates, as well as highlight opportunities for the development and broad implementation of innovative and equitable solutions that will ultimately strengthen Arkansas’ educational system post-COVID.

Alternate Methods of Instruction (AMI)

The Arkansas Department of Education developed a memo outlining guidance for districts during this time, and are continuously updating recommendations and resources for AMI. Here are a few things districts can do now:

  1. Beginning March 30, Arkansas PBS altered daytime programming – complete with learning guides – to provide content for students. For students with limited internet access, districts can align their printed AMI materials with the PBS programming schedule to give students a “schedule” and provide teachers with natural check-in times. The Arkansas AMI Hotline, staffed by the Arkansas Department of Education from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, will answer questions from educators, parents and students about the new process. The hotline number is 1-833-353-6050.
  2. Many districts have surveyed their families about internet access. Linked here are several survey examples that other districts can use.
    1. Lee County
    2. Little Rock School District
    3. Little Rock Spanish Survey
    4. North Little Rock School District
    5. North Little Rock Spanish Survey
    6. Jacksonville/North Pulaski School District
  3. Districts can create resource guides for parents and families to support and engage them in the learning experience. For example, ZUNI Learning Tree, an Arkansas-based learning app, is offering free accounts to parents and teachers.
  4. The Southern Education Foundation partnered with Common Sense Media for its launch of the WideOpenSchool.org platform, which provides a free and open collection of quality online learning experiences to educators and families. They are also curating COVID-19 resources and keeping equity at the forefront of digital learning conversations. This includes the first in a series of publications, Distance Learning During COVID-19: 7 Equity Considerations for Schools and Leaders, an issue brief that provides practical equity considerations and examples of how districts are meeting the needs of their most vulnerable students and families right now.
  5. Digital Promise, a national platform, has compiled some of the best resources and exemplars for schools and families preparing for online learning in response to COVID-19.

ForwARd Arkansas welcomes your ideas and examples of school districts in Arkansas or elsewhere who are successfully tackling these issues with innovative approaches. Share them with us on social media or at info@forwardarkansas.org.