Road Map for K-12 Education
Equity and Access â€• Key Considerations when using our Strategies
Summer, 2020 V.1.0
The ability to implement the strategies outlined in our Road Map will vary due to the disparity in school demographics, funding, schedule, and administrative policy. Prior to COVID-19 closures, the data shows that schools with a greater proportion of students eligible for free and reduced lunch had more deferred maintenance, worse air quality, and inadequate temperature control compared to their more affluent counterparts.1
Author / Summer - 2020 Erika Eitland , ScD, MPH Research Analyst 2
“Select strategies based on feasibility given the unique space and needs of the school. Not all strategies will be feasible for all schools.” -CDC, “Interim Guidance for Administrators of US K-12 Schools and Child Care Programs”
―Equity and Access Considerations
• Parents with work commitments and no additional childcare
• Housing and food insecure
• Students living with multigenerational family members
• English-language learners (ELL)
• Students with disabilities
• Limited internet connectivity
• Deferred building maintenance and operations
• Proximity to industrial facilities and/or superfund sites
• Mold and moisture present
• Ambient air pollution
Equity and Access
― Family: Take Care of the Caretaker In 2019, 94% of fathers and 72% of mothers were in the U.S. workforce. 2 If parents do not have flexible workplace policies or adequate childcare, sick children may be encouraged to go to school or stay at home unsupervised. ǌ When schools reopen, a child displaying COVID-19 symptoms may require additional space to quarantine or isolate in school, especially in the case they cannot readily go home or be picked up by a caregiver. ǌ Instead of triaging cases in schools, working with parents proactively can identify barriers to practicing safe and healthy habits at home.
There is a growing number of children living with grandparents.3 ǌ Recognizing the overall mortality distribution, elderly are most susceptible to severe illness from COVID-19 infection. ǌ Providing additional remote learning assistance and allowing students to remain at home if they are living with multigenerational families may reduce transmission.
In 2019, 94% of fathers and 72% of mothers were in the U.S. workforce. -United States Government Accountability Office, School Districts Frequently Identified Multiple Building Systems Needing Updates or Replacement
Equity and Access
― Student: Reopen for all Students There are 1.2 million students experiencing homelessness in the United States.4 To support these students this fall, it is essential to prioritize access to school facilities for students lacking a home environment conducive to remote learning. ǌ Providing mobile hotspots and/or distributing books can improve access to Internet, virtual learning and material. Flexible budgeting, solicitation of back-up contact information, and assessment of student-reported needs can all help tailor solutions. By identifying motels or shelters with concentrations of homeless students, schools can provide services (internet hot spots, book and material distribution, food) at these locations. If schools don’t re-open this fall, ensure school facilities remain grab-ngo meal distribution sites and/or use busses for meal distribution for this student population. COVID-19 measures (e.g. social distancing, virtual learning) may exacerbate challenges already experienced by students with disabilities in the built environment. Students with mobility, visual, auditory, cognitive, and/or behavioral impairments may not be able to universally benefit from the recommendations in this document, but the holistic, public health approach should ultimately support safety and security of all students, regardless of ability. Each individual educational plan (IEP) should address a student’s specific needs in the context of these strategies—and beyond, as needed. For example, to support delivery of services, consider bringing in small cohorts of students to receive essential special services that cannot be conducted remotely. For speech-impaired staff and students, consider using Communicator masks (see PPE strategies for more information).
In public schools, 10% of students are English-language learners.5 It is essential to ensure that all electronic and printed communications (e.g. information on how the disease spreads, updates to school policies) are available in multiple languages. Also, provide technology training in their native language for families with limited English proficiency. In addition to potential communication challenges, some English-language learners may face discrimination related to the pandemic. The U.S. Department of Educationâ€™s Office for Civil Rights has released a statement about race-based bullying increases, especially for students of Chinese American and Asian descent due to COVID-19.6 The Harvard Graduate School of Educationâ€™s Center for Reimagining Integration: Diverse and Equitable Schools (RIDES) has resources to support students of different races within the same school.7 The digital divide has prevented equitable access to distance learning. To address these gaps in the following year, use WiFi-equipped busses to create internet hotspots for students and teachers without reliable internet access. If virtual or blended learning occurs, consider using busses to distribute or collect books and printed learning materials. Finally, if your school has a 1:1 computer device policy, continue to uphold this in the coming year to promote continuity of learning and student safety.
More than 50% of public school districts need to update or replace multiple building systems including heating, ventilation and air conditioning. -Harvard Graduate School of Education, Reimagining Integration Diverse and Equitable Schools
Equity and Access
― Buildings: Bandaid Solutions Don’t Work More than 50% of public school districts need to update or replace multiple building systems including heating, ventilation and air conditioning.8 This suggests that indoor air quality is compromised, which can adversely impact students with chronic, pre-existing conditions such as asthma. Aging systems— including lighting, plumbing, and heating— along with structural integrity can make it difficult to clean and disinfect schools. These limitations make it difficult (even in nonpandemic times) to foster a healthy environment that supports optimal health and performance of students, teachers, and staff. The holistic approach and strategies provided in this road map aim to improve the school environment with no to low-cost solutions that are easy to implement.
Equity and Access
â€• School Siting The impact of school siting is outside the scope of this road map, but research shows that outdoor air pollution is associated with increased COVID-19 mortality,9 increased absenteeism,10 and decreased lung function.11 Therefore, surrounding environmental justice concerns may influence the severity of COVID-19 cases experienced by school communities. Reducing local sources of air pollution such as traffic can reduce chronic, harmful exposures that could increase susceptibility to COVID-19. Strategies for reducing traffic-related air pollution on school air quality include introducing more trees with low-pollen emissions, avoiding rush-hour travel, improving bus idling policies, street closures at school entrances during rush-hour, and filtering air intake. 12 12
Teamwork makes the dream work. Cooperation is Critical
avoid duplication of services,
streamline of mission/vision,
reduce competition for resources, and
improve awareness through clarity of presence.
Reach out to leadership and look for opportunities for cross-pollination. The RELi Action Toolkit includes strategies for Partnerships.
― What are we reading
• Education Now: The Challenges of Reopening - Harvard Graduate School of Education • Johns Hopkins’ eSchool+ Initiative for an evaluation of current state reopening plans and their inclusion of vulnerable populations. • The Joint Statement of Education and Civil Rights Organizations on Equitable Education • Rivas et al. (2018). How to protect school children from the neurodevelopmental harms of air pollution by interventions in the school environment in the urban context. Environment International.
Equity and Access
― References Haverinen-Shaughnessy, U., & Shaughnessy, R. J. (2015). Effects of Classroom Ventilation Rate and Temperature on
Students’ Test Scores. PloS one, 10(8), e0136165. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0136165 2
We are here to assist you in your return to school. For more information, please contact: K12Education@perkinswill.com ÂŠ 2020 The guidance provided on this site is based on the available information as of the date of publication and does not replace federal, state, or local public health recommendations but aggregates best practices and innovative solutions at the intersection of buildings and school health. We encourage schools to reach out and seek expert advice on their unique circumstances.