Back to School in the Era of COVID-19: Uncertainties, Complexities, and Emerging Plans

Meeting 41
June 15-16, 2020 

By forcing the suspension of in-person learning across California, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the conditions in which teaching and learning take place. As districts reopen schools for the 2020-21 school year, they do so in the face of tremendous complexity. The June 2020 meeting of the California Collaborative on District Reform created space for participants to explore both the daunting challenges and the promising opportunities to embrace innovation and more effectively address student needs. Among the dimensions of reentry that anchored the meeting conversation, meeting participants considered strategies for designing high-quality and equitable instructional experiences, approaches to ensure the social and emotional well-being of students and adults alike, and principles of powerful leadership in times of crisis. Resources from the meeting are available below.

Meeting 41 Summary

Briefing Book


Policy and practice briefs produced as an outcome from Meeting 41.

Ensuring Whole-Child Well-Being as a Foundation for Learning
October 2020

A trio of crises—the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting financial instability, and racial injustice—has disrupted learning environments and the relationships, structures, and supports that students depend on to thrive. The consequences are far-reaching, but they have been felt most acutely by our most vulnerable youth. In the face of these challenges, lessons from the science of learning and development illustrate how strategic attention to supporting social, emotional, and cognitive well-being can light a path forward. A new brief from the California Collaborative on District Reform, Ensuring Whole-Child Well-Being as a Foundation for Learning: Relationships, Routines, and Resilience in the Time of COVID-19, explores the ways in which the pandemic has introduced and exacerbated threats to whole-child health and well-being, but also draws attention to human resilience and the supports that can empower students and adults to navigate the obstacles in their way. It draws attention to relationships, routines, and resilience—“The New Three Rs”—as vehicles for supporting well-being and learning, and highlights emerging district practices that can foster resilience among all members of our school communities in this moment and beyond.

This brief shares insights from the California Collaborative on District Reform’s recent meeting on approaches to school re-entry during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more resources related to COVID-19, please visit