Centering English Learners in Schools’ Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Since school buildings closed their doors in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, English Learners (ELs) have faced significant barriers to participating in remote instruction. These include circumstances related to many immigrant families’ limited capacity to support home learning as well as more structural challenges such as inadequate digital learning resources.

But responses to the pandemic should also cause schools and local and state education leaders to reflect on their system’s capacity to equitably support ELs’ linguistic, academic, and socioemotional development. Implementing remote learning has exposed long-standing weaknesses in many districts’ approaches to teacher professional development, multilingual supports for parents with limited English, and building meaningful connections with immigrant families and communities.

In this webinar, Julie Sugarman and Melissa Lazarín, authors of a report from MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy discuss key challenges to meeting ELs’ needs during the pandemic and the policies and practices school systems will need to put in place to support them and their families through the public-health and education crisis, as well as when schooling returns to normal. In addition, presenters, Californians Together's Shelly Spiegel-Coleman and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools's Molly Hegwood, provide examples of centering ELs in planning for school year 2020­­­–21, including how to document supports for ELs in a district’s continuity-of-learning plan and how one district incorporated EL needs into its virtual learning plan.

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