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News and Opinion May 7, 2020

Pamela Cantor, M.D. Contributes to Aspen Institute Recommendations for States in the Pandemic Era

Education and Society Program - The Aspen Institute


The Aspen Institute Education & Society Program has proposed “10 State Actions to develop, maintain, and strengthen the crucial connections and relationships that are necessary for learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The recommendations were informed by a diverse body of thought leaders which included Turnaround for Children Founder and Senior Science Advisor, Pamela Cantor, M.D. The recommendations offer ten actions that State leaders can take now and through the 2020-21 school year to support student’s social, emotional and academic development:

10 State Actions

  1. Establish a student advisory council for statewide education and COVID-related policy issues that impact youth and families.
  2. Identify and address the stress and trauma that students have experienced during school closings, and that will be ongoing when school buildings reopen.
  3. Identify and address the stress and trauma that school personnel have experienced during school closings, and that will be ongoing when school buildings reopen.
  4. Establish a clear definition of “student engagement” and healthy conditions for learning, or refine existing definitions and provide measurement tools, resources, and guidance to LEAs and schools.
  5. Act to remove anxiety about academic performance and to allow for and prioritize healing and belonging that will foster academic learning.
  6. Act to remove anxiety about assessment and accountability by establishing and communicating a clear plan for the 2020-2021 school year.
  7. Collaborate to shift some responsibilities from the education sector to other state and local agencies and service providers.
  8. Pilot removing barriers to innovation and to enable flexibility during the 2020-21 school year to allow more responsive district and local action while maintaining focus on equity for under-served students.
  9. More clearly define and differentiate adult roles toward areas in need of greatest attention when students return: safety, healing and feeling connected to the school community, and maintaining and strengthening communication.
  10. Dedicate state education agency and other state administrative staff to focus on recovery.

The recommendations were unveiled during an online event hosted by the Aspen Institute with guest speakers Elizabeth Casillas of  RISE Colorado, and Linda Darling-Hammond of the California State Board of Education and Learning Policy Institute.

Read the full publication here.