Now that school is largely back in session— online at some, in-person at some, and blended at others— news about how schools are dealing with and responding to COVID-19 is starting to trickle in. From concerns over infection spikes and students navigating social distancing and isolation, to decisions (and reversed decisions) on areas such as sports, extracurriculars and student housing, the approach to returning to school has been anything but simple. As the Star Tribune puts it, “Minnesotans are feeling a rush of back-to-school jitters unlike anything they’ve ever experienced.” Read more in the Star Tribune’s articles on the lead up to K-12 education and the new college life in Minnesota schools. As one of the articles outlines, COVID-19 cases are rising in some Minnesota colleges; within less than a week of starting classes, Winona State University had 97 positive cases, and as of the beginning of September, Minnesota State University in Mankato had 128 positive cases. To experts, the spike comes as no surprise given the influx of students coming or returning to their college communities. Check here for information from the Minnesota Department of Health on COVID-19 and schools.
As part of our Recipes for Success series, Growth & Justice hosted a virtual Broadband Breakfast yesterday, where we were joined by Diane Wells of the MN Department of Broadband Development. Diane gave us a detailed update on the state of broadband in Minnesota; you can look at her slideshow and data here. If you missed the event and would like to watch the recording, you can access it here. If you are interested in registering for our next Blueprint Breakfast on September 30th focused on healthcare, you can register for it here! Additionally, the Blandin Foundation’s Annual Broadband Conference is happening over Zoom from October 6—29. Talk about broadband access, participate in sessions with experts, hear from keynote speakers and network and collaborate with others interested in broadband! You can read more and register on their event’s page. In related news, don’t forget to take the MN Rural Broadband Coalition’s Speed Test! You can access the test here.
A reminder that Growth & Justice is creating a comprehensive calendar listing of equitable and inclusive events! If you know of any events or if your organization is hosting an event that you would like to be included, you can submit them by filling out this Google form.
“A challenge we are facing is inadequate access to the technology and social infrastructure needed for virtual education. In the same way our country invested in our physical infrastructure, such as the interstate highway system, this pandemic has highlighted the need for a similar investment in our technology infrastructure, and beyond that, research suggests the social and instructional supports needed for all students to successfully learn with technology. Students without reliable, fast internet or suitable devices for schoolwork or people around them to help are spotlighted in the shift to virtual education.”
— Dr. Christine Greenhow, Associate Professor of Educational Psychology and Educational Technology, Michigan State University, sourced from SciLine
”Everyone is having a different pandemic. There are students who are thriving while learning at home— those who find social situations uncomfortable, those who enjoy individual inquiry and autonomy, those who struggled to get up early for school, students who experienced racism and bigotry at school but find safety and comfort at home. And even among students who prefer school to remote learning, there is a tremendous amount of unplanned learning happening. Students (and their families) are learning about new technology tools and practices; many students are rising to the challenges of independent learning posed by the crisis and learning how to make choices, meet deadlines, and manage time on their own. But those experiential learning gains are undoubtedly occurring alongside much less progress in the core academic curriculum that students typically experience.”
— Justin Reich, EdD, Assistant Professor at MIT and director of the MIT Teaching Systems Lab, sourced from SciLine