Emerging Anew After COVID

Robert Rothman
by Robert Rothman

Emerging Anew After COVID

Emerging Anew After COVID

How One Top Performer is Reimagining Education While Reopening

A new paper authored by Senior Editor Robert Rothman, a nationally known education writer and editor, details how the Surrey School District in British Columbia, Canada—the largest district in one of the top-performing provinces in a top-performing nation—is developing a new education system that supports learning and development for all students, built on what they learned during the shutdown .

The global coronavirus pandemic has disrupted education systems throughout the world. But for one district in a top-performing jurisdiction, at least, the crisis represents an opportunity to transform to even higher levels of performance.

The Surrey School District in British Columbia, Canada—the largest district in one of the top-performing provinces in a top-performing nation—abruptly closed all schools in March, as the pandemic swept through the nation. After two months of all-online instruction, the province called for partially reopening for a month in June, allowing students to return to class part-time on a voluntary basis. 

But as the district planned for the 2020-21 school year, educators agreed that they would not go back to the way things were before the pandemic. They would create something new—something that builds on what they learned during the shutdown that supports learning and development for all students.

And, said the superintendent, Jordan Tinney, that is what parents want. “What is clear is that there is an appetite for something different, not just a return to your neighborhood school, not homeschooling, not distributed learning from some central authority, but something different,” he wrote in an August 29 blog. “There is a loud ask to transform our system to provide something that allows people to be connected to their neighborhood (or current) school, that gives some flexibility of face-to-face time and time at home, and includes being supported by online tools and learning structures.”

“Most importantly,” he added, “that ask is coming from all sides, including those who would normally do well in our system.”