Here to Stay: 9 Changes COVID Inspired in Schools Here to Stay: 9 Changes COVID Inspired in Schools

Here to Stay: 9 Changes COVID Inspired in Schools

Erin Werra Erin Werra EdTech Thought Leader
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Adaptation. If there is one word to describe life since spring 2020, perhaps that is it. COVID changed many things. Perhaps most notably in education, it served as a digital accelerator, forcing schools to quickly align their technology with their changing instructional and business needs.

Though much of life will return to normal, some of these pandemic-era changes are here to stay. Let’s take a look at what’s sticking around from COVID in schools.

1. New Student Online Enrollment

Pandemic or not, families move into new districts and schools. The paperwork used to require the sacrifice of a tree or two, as well as in-person visits to the school office—but not anymore.

Skyward’s New Student Online Enrollment cut down on trips to the main office to drop off proof of residency and identifying documentation. Guardians of new students can submit scanned copies of documents securely online. The enrollment process then flows into scheduling, fees, and any other registration tasks (which you can create with custom forms in Skyward).

If you’re not yet using NSOE, check out this interview and this 2-minute video to learn how New Student Online Enrollment can benefit your district.

2. Whole Child Education

Whole child education has stepped into the spotlight in ways we’ve never seen before.

Schools embraced strategies to promote physical wellness, from masking and sanitizing to delivering meals to students learning from home. Mental health (of both students and staff) has also become a bigger part of the conversation. People are being encouraged to advocate for their own health—making decisions that are best for them and their circumstances.

3. Arena Scheduling

Arena scheduling works from any location with an internet connection, a major reason for its recent increase in popularity. When students select their own courses and build their own schedules, they not only take on some of the burden of scheduling, but also learn valuable lessons about time management and responsibility. Plus, they get a preview of what scheduling will be like in post-secondary education.

If you're still new to arena scheduling, check out this article to learn the basics.

4. Virtual Parent-Teacher Conferences

For districts conducting virtual parent-teacher conferences, the experience has been a home run. One Skyward district even reported a 100 percent participation rate in its elementary school—100 percent!

Virtual parent-teacher conferences offer the benefits of traditional in-person conferences, plus greater convenience for parents and greater safety for schools by keeping unnecessary visitors out of the building.

You can learn more about using Skyward to schedule conferences in this Power-Up tutorial.

5. Flexible Learning Spaces

School used to refer to a building. Now it encompasses an array of still-evolving settings.

In-building classrooms underwent some pretty momentous changes during the 2020 school year. Classrooms created more space for students to spread out and room dividers (clear, to ensure a nice line of sight) were put in place. It drives home the concept that flexible seating is not just for show: the ability to create different zones and spaces within a classroom has made a difference for teaching in person.

Out-of-building classrooms also emerged (weather permitting). They’ve not only served as ways to prevent the spread of disease but have also given teachers and kids a chance to integrate more movement into class.

Finally, the way school districts consider expanding building space has changed. Improving existing school buildings and converting existing real estate (think vacant big box stores) has served existing needs without waiting for new construction funds to be allocated by referenda. The environmental impacts of these decisions are worth noting too.

6. Paperless Processes

Speaking of environmental impacts, throughout the pandemic, many districts have moved paper processes online. Online Forms save paper and ensure your materials are accessible from anywhere. Staff and families alike benefit from these touchless options.

Hiring new candidates remotely also became smoother and faster. For districts who moved the entire process online with Fast Track, candidates can now submit everything over the web, saving both time and paper, while still maintaining compliance.

Accounts payable and invoices also presented an opportunity to move payments online without losing the so-called paper trail. ePayables, online purchase orders, and online accounts payable are all housed within Skyward’s ERP.

7. Online PD Options

With some educators working from home, the prevalence of online PD increased. Let’s take a look at some of your options in Skyward:

Professional Development Center: The primary platform for Skyward’s remote training, the PDC is a self-paced program featuring courses of various levels with simulations, videos, and knowledge checks.

Skyward Academy: The Skyward Academy offers dozens of 1–3-hour sessions each month on common processes and appropriately timed themes.

SkyDoc/Help Center: Videos, recorded webinars, tutorials, and other multimedia resources live in SkyDoc and the Help Center.

Skyward Community (Qmlativ only): The Skyward Community is a networking platform for Qmlativ users to share ideas, improve processes, and connect with other users and the Skyward team.

Quick Hits: This series of 2-minute-or-less videos is designed to help you work smarter in Skyward.

Family Access & Employee Access Toolkits: The Family Access Toolkit and Employee Access Toolkit include Power-Up videos, print resources, and troubleshooting tips to help district employees, students, and families achieve more with these portals.

8. Focus on health and hygiene

Schools have prioritized handwashing and sanitizing surfaces. Influenza numbers have trended down, possibly thanks to this increase in hygiene and the adoption of mask wearing. In addition, students and staff who present any symptoms of illness have been required to stay out of school and work/study from home, making schools healthier places to be.

9. Hybrid and Virtual Learning

Not everyone learns the same. In-person, online, and hybrid learning options add a lot of logistics to school districts but going forward these options can be game-changers for families.

That’s probably why a survey of over 375 school districts and charter schools showed 20% already plan to offer virtual school options after the pandemic ends. Even though remote learning was not the golden ticket for every family, some students thrived in an environment that placed more emphasis on individual study and less on social structures. And others, especially those living with chronic illnesses, benefited from the ability to stay safe and feel included, even if not physically able to attend in person.

Check out this article to learn how to simplify virtual, hybrid, and in-person attendance!


A lot has changed in the last year and a half. Decision-making was forced to occur at a rapid pace. But that pace also revealed lessons we can take forward into a post-pandemic world.

We’ve learned we can change a lot—and make smart decisions—in less time than we thought we needed. We’ve learned to be agile, and that if something doesn’t work, we can simply pivot and try again. And we’ve learned we’re more flexible than we thought, and hopefully more resilient too.

 

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Erin Werra Erin Werra EdTech Thought Leader


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