#2: Responding To A Crisis: A Series Documenting How New Orleans Educators and Schools Are Reacting To COVID-19

This is the second in a series of interviews and Q&As conducted by the Cowen Institute with New Orleans educators to highlight how schools are managing with the current COVID-19 outbreak.

This is an edited Q&A email exchange with Adam Meinig, School Leader and Principal of Success at Thurgood Marshall.

Cowen Institute: How are you communicating with students and families since school closures began?

Meinig: We’ve worked really hard to make sure that we have current and correct contact information for all of our families and communicate daily via text, email, and phone.

How often are you reaching out to them?

We’re in daily contact with all stakeholders. We have launched virtual learning and are closely monitoring family access and engagement as we strive to get all of our students engaged in daily instruction. We want to make sure that our students can come out of this ahead.

What supports and assistance are you providing to students and families currently?

We are providing computers, assisting in securing wifi access, delivering hot spots, and offering daily office hours to directly support with completion of online work.

What type of school work are students completing while at home?

We are trying to provide a complete instructional program covering all standards. We are using Google classroom to guide students through learning activities and provide feedback on student work. We are also using a variety of blended learning programs.

How will remote student work be assessed (if at all)?

Similarly to how we think of assessment in a traditional classroom. In most grades, teachers are capturing 2–3 grades per subject area per week. We are working to make sure that assessment is being used as a tool to improve instruction and to provide feedback to students. We are committed to ensuring that we are meeting the needs of our families in these difficult times.

How are you planning for the possibility that schools are closed for the rest of the year?

We are assuming that schools are closed for the remainder of the year and therefore see the virtual teaching work as critical for our kids to be prepared for the 20–21 school year.

What are you hearing from families right now that are their biggest challenges or needs?

In terms of school, the biggest need is reliable, consistent technology that they are familiar with using.

Coronavirus has been a stressful experience for many people in the New Orleans community. People are concerned about the health of their loved ones and the financial security of their families. Is there anything that schools can do to provide emotional support to students and families?

We are working to be able to provide a sense of community through the virtual classroom spaces and a sense of normalcy in the classwork. We are working to continue as many of our mental health supports as possible as well.

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The mission of the Cowen Institute is to advance public education and youth success in New Orleans and beyond.

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