The latest pandemic surge has brought with it another wave of instability for our students’ education. But as we’ve seen throughout previous phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, charter public schools across our state are committing to putting kids first and doing #WhateverItTakes to ensure they remain in class safely.
That commitment has only been reaffirmed in the days following the holiday season. Despite continuing challenges around masking, testing, and vaccination, charter schools are empowered by their ability to lean into their unique flexibility and embrace solutions with students’ wellbeing at the center of them.
Take Larchmont Charter School for example. The school’s staff came in during their holiday break to provide drive-through COVID testing to more than 1,100 students and fellow staff so school could open on time earlier this month. Meanwhile, staff at Vista Charter Middle School in Los Angeles distributed at-home testing kits days before students were due back on campus.
Photo credit: Larchmont Charter School
San Diego-based Empower Language Academy made a similar effort following the holiday season and has staged up their campus to expand access to vaccines for eligible students and parents. A little further north in San Bernardino, PAL Charter Academy Executive Director Dwaine Radden set an example for students and families by getting tested days in advance of the school’s return to the classroom. Over at PAL Charter, they’ve had a robust system in place, testing students, staff, and families twice a week since returning to in-person learning.
And up in Sacramento, students at St. Hope Public School’s P.S. 7 Elementary School are already experiencing early academic success following their return to in-person learning earlier this month: First grade scholars earned 85% or higher on their goal setting writing lessons.
When it comes to academic outcomes, charters are using data to identify opportunities to support students, taking honest assessments of their progress and sharing best practices with other leaders.
We also know from our latest Portrait of the Movement report that the commitment to support students’ social-emotional wellbeing is widespread throughout the charter school community: 93% of charters have used some of their COVID relief funds to make significant new investments in social-emotional and mental health supports. In Los Angeles specifically, these funds are being used to provide novel instructional supports that go beyond hiring additional social-workers and social-emotional counselors.
Based on our research and the everyday experiences of students and parents, it is clearly an urgent moment that requires an educational experience that goes beyond just remote learning, supporting students wherever possible in their social-emotional wellbeing. The charter community is demonstrating that a student-centered approach is not only possible but necessary if we want the best possible learning experience for kids in this moment.
We simply cannot allow our student’s wellbeing to suffer. That’s why charter schools are doing #WhateverItTakes to support the academic and non-academic needs of students still facing a pandemic intent on disrupting their education.
Is your school doing #WhateverItTakes to keep students safely in the classroom? Let us know by tagging us on social media at @calcharters.