With the launch of the 2020 school year, we all need to remember the hurdles and challenges this pandemic has created for students, parents, and educators. It’s particularly true for at risk and minority students.  School districts, parents and students need additional support now more than ever. 

Education looks very different this year. Whether students are learning virtually, in the classroom socially distanced and wearing masks, or opting for an entirely different school or way of learning, new challenges are being presented as we continue to fight the virus and stay healthy.

Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, many students will face added frustrations and disadvantages with the new normal of remote learning. Some may not have the support they need at home and they cannot go into the classroom to work with teachers in person.

With scarce resources available, educators need to be innovative and nimble and should look for any possible edge to improve the school environment.  With the unique challenges that many local rural and underserved communities face, one suggestion I’d submit is the Graduation Alliance’s Dropout Recovery program. 

While there are several non-profits working in education, the Graduation Alliance has some powerful tools to aid struggling students.  Tools like internet access for kids who lack service, proactive online mentoring, teachers and tutors available 24/7, just to name a few.  And they’ve had demonstrable success around the country and in the Northwest.  For work they did with the Northshore School District they were recognized for closing gaps and showing tremendous growth in student achievement. 

This is just one example of many programs available.  However, in this current environment, leaders like Wendy Smith, President of the Vancouver Public School District need to apply some out-of-the-box thinking and utilize every tool in the toolbox to help students and families get through this difficult time.