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Understanding the Landscape for Returning to School

**Wood, J. H., & Wetzler, J. (2020). Harnessing tensions: A both/and approach to school recovery and reinvention. Transcend, Inc.

The authors of this report lay bare six tensions and associated tradeoffs schools and districts must consider while preparing for the 2021-22 school year. These tensions are framed as questions: should we prioritize the needs of teachers or students, is student learning driven by meeting standards or by their own intrinsic motivation, should we prioritize academic learning or wellness, should students be given universal or individualized supports, does the best learning happen at school or somewhere else, and should we progress quickly and urgently or go slow and steady? For each question, the authors suggest a “both/and” approach, while also acknowledging there is no one-size-fits-all resolution for many of these complex challenges. This piece is available at

Chesler, B. (2021, June 1). My COVID-19 teaching year.

In her blog entry, a high school visual arts teacher in Oregon chronicled her experience of the 2020-21 school year and how juggling her other roles – mother, wife, niece, and friend – weighed on her as she taught virtually. The author describes how nearby wildfires, childcare stressors, and loss of family and friends served as the backdrop to her professional life. We are sharing this poignant story because it will likely resonate with many of us who struggled to balance our roles and responsibilities. We also hope this will supplement what we will hear directly from practitioners in Session I. This piece is available at

Johnson, Jr., S. L., Bishop, J. P., Howard, T. C., James, A., Rivera, E., & Noguera, P. A. (2021). Beyond the schoolhouse, digging deeper: COVID-19 & reopening schools for Black students in Los Angeles. UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools.

This report pays special attention to contextual factors that impact Black families’ experience of the pandemic in Los Angeles (LA). The authors analyze academic, school engagement, and community data from 14 school districts in LA County that each serve 800 or more black students. The authors advocate for policy makers to address underlying factors affecting student success, such as poverty, declining and shifting enrollment, environmental factors affecting health and wellness, and school climate. The authors highlight eight schools or non-profits for their promising programs which have collaborated with partners, offered academically rigorous curricula, and provided a holistic approach to working with Black students and families in the LA area. This piece is available at If your time is limited, you can read the executive summary at

**This document is considered a priority reading.