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COVID-19 Learning Impacts Toolkit
Toolkit 1.0 Design
The Learning Impacts Toolkit is a starting point for responding to the impacts of the pandemic. The content of the Toolkit will evolve over time to respond to needs of school and district leaders. The Toolkit consists of these components:
Guidance and Resources for District Comprehensive Response Planning
- Assessing students' needs: Local data on academic, well-being, student engagement
- Using data-based problem solving
- Engaging parents and the community
- Developing a comprehensive response plan including strategies, benchmarks, action steps, and progress monitoring
Resources, Policies, and Funding to Provide ELOs
- Restructuring the school day (scheduling, core and intervention time)
- Extended school day
- Extended school year
- Summer learning
- Tutoring and community support
- Community resources and partnerships
Resources to Support Instruction and Intervention
- Best practices for planning instruction and intervention
- Resources for different instructional delivery models (online, blended, etc.)
- Resources for special education
- Resources for English Learners
- Resources for secondary students (credit recovery, re-engagement)
- Considerations for grading, advancement, and competency based systems
Resources to Support the Wellbeing and Connectedness of Students
- Resources for student well-being
- Resources for re-engaging students
Resources to Support Response Efforts
- Funding sources to support response efforts
- Policy decisions for response efforts
Learning Series Opportunity
Equity and Excellence Conference
The Equity & Excellence Learning Series, From Survive to Thrive: Addressing Learning Opportunity and Accelerating Recovery in Colorado, is a series designed to promote engagement with the Learning Impacts Toolkit through meaningful learning and conversation among school leaders and educators. Sessions are set to occur throughout spring/summer 2021.
Unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic
Never before has the education system needed to address what U.S. educators are facing now. Districts and school leaders must consider the immediate and ongoing health needs of students and staff as the world begins to recover from a global pandemic. At the same time, leaders must plan for and implement strategies to address the impacts of the lost instructional time on the learning and wellbeing of students. Even for districts that were able maintain in-person learning, adhering to health protocols and maintaining a learning environment often interrupted by quarantines has been a challenge.
Recovering from learning opportunity loss
"Recovery" from learning opportunity loss caused by the pandemic will not be a quick fix. It will take long-term planning and efforts beyond summer 2021 activities. And it is important to keep in mind that not all students went into the pandemic at grade level. As school and district leaders work to address the impact of the pandemic on learning and wellbeing of students and staff, a variety of new and existing strategies may need to be considered for the near term and into the future. And for some students, the impacts of the pandemic will take months or years to address.
Educational leaders are in the challenging position of making sense of student learning data, family feedback and supporting staff and students, while making the best decisions about prioritizing limited resources and providing reassurance and direction for your staff, students and communities.
Working together to support students and families
Colorado education leaders have amazing creativity, innovation and passion for education. Working together, CDE is confident that we will continue to find new ways to serve our students and families in 2021-2022 and beyond. CDE extends our appreciation for all that Colorado’s school and district leaders have already done to support students and families during the pandemic and all of the work ahead to recover.
How to Use the Response Plan Toolkit
The Response Plan section of the Learning Impacts Toolkit is intended to provide structure and support as schools and district leaders create Response Plans for addressing long-term impacts of COVID-19. The Response Plans are intended to articulate the school or district’s key focus areas to address impacts of COVID-19.
It is important to note that this toolkit may be used to draft a Response Plan, as well as complete a school and district’s Unified Improvement Plan (UIP). This approach is intended to reduce duplicity and increase streamlined communications.
- Principal and school leaders: You may use this to structure your ongoing annual planning process and ensure your team is reflecting on key areas of need that have arisen due to COVID-19. This may include adding or restructuring use of resources. The details of your Response Plan can be included within components of your UIP.
- District leaders: District leaders may find this useful in providing more structure to your district response plan for addressing long-term impacts of COVID-19, including ongoing improvement planning and budgeting.
The Response Plan section of the toolkit is designed using best practices from school and district improvement planning processes that begin with the Establish the "Why."
Districts and schools are encouraged to first establish "why" creating a response plan with a shared purpose and approach is needed. There are two key steps to establish the "why."
Create a shared purpose for the response plan: consider how the school or district’s identified needs align with the community’s vision for graduates. Identify what this means for how we respond in this moment of identifying and responding to learning opportunities due to the pandemic.
Based on these questions, identify guiding principles that will anchor the rest of your planning. Examine the key verbs in your mission and vision that can be used as guiding principles to focus resources toward identified needs. Consider how the toolkit can be utilized in applying for various funding streams from federal and state sources.
Reflect and Regroup: Guiding Questions
- What went well in our response for 2020-2021?
- What can be improved?
- What can we learn from it?
- How does what we learned apply to our mission and vision?
- What do our reflections reveal for how we respond to this moment?
- What questions are we seeking to resolve through this plan?
Sample Narrative: Our district has identified multiple areas of academic need due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has amplified previously identified concerns as well as to create new challenges that the district wishes to address through expanded learning opportunities and the associated resources to provide these opportunities. To access funds for expanded learning opportunities, the district is using this response plan template as a key part of any application for such funding.
Generating new definitions of success may help establish expectations for the response plan components, including:
- Academic Knowledge/Content
- Transferable Skills/21st Century Skills
- Intrapersonal and Social and Emotional Skills and Mindsets
- Talent and Human Capital
Generate New Definitions for Success: Guiding Questions
- How does our definition of success drive what we need to monitor and measure? What data will we need?
- What does a student-centered purpose look like for our community?
- What is our purpose assuming?
- Who needs to be involved and during what points in the process?
- What barriers do we anticipate facing?
- What policies, culture and instructional practices need to be analyzed and adjusted?
- How can we continuously involve students, staff and the community to inform and adjust our approach?
UIP Info and Description
Review Slides 5 & 6
Schools and districts utilize this section to provide details about the school/district context and to answer questions about grant history and improvement plan requirements.
Once the "why" has been established, districts and schools may more readily engage in a thoughtful process to identify and prioritize the needs of the school community within the response plan. Using a robust data analysis process and identifying root causes are important steps of the response plan.
Area 1. Assessing students' academic progress, growth, well-being, and engagement.
- What are your initial thoughts/reactions to each set of data or all the different data sources reviewed?
- Is this what you expected to see? If so, how? If not, how?
- Is there a particular piece of data that catches your attention?
- What do these data not tell us? What are the limitations of these data?
- What explanations do you have about what you see?
- Interpret the data in light of discussion in section one "Why".
- Consider your own perspectives that they bring to the data.
- What thoughts/assumptions do these data confirm?
- Are there any limitations to our considerations?
- Are there any perspectives we haven't considered?
- Do we need additional data to answer our question(s)? What additional data might inform this? Are we currently collecting these data OR do we need to collect new data?
- Discuss areas where expectations were not met or areas where you would like to improve.
- What possible trends are you seeing when reviewing student academic data, relative to literacy, math, student engagement, student social, emotional and behavioral needs?
- Consider how these results differ from past student performance (e.g. prior to COVID-19).
- Data and Root Cause Analysis Resources
- Data Resources for Education Stakeholders
- Trend Statement Examples
Area 2. Engage Students
- How are the perspectives of students included in the conversation about learning impact?
- What is the process to ensure that students can voice their needs to those guiding response planning?
- How will you match resources to students' needs?
- How will you ensure that students who are not actively engaged are recovered?
- (For Secondary) What resources might you use to ensure that students are not falling further off track to graduate?
- Student surveys - Learning and Adapting
- Want to Tackle Learning Loss? First Listen to Your Students
- Best Practices Guide for Dropout Prevention
- District to District Student Transfer and Transitions
Area 3. Engage Parents and Community
- How are families and staff currently partnering for positive student outcomes? (Identify starting points with the FSCP rubrics listed below under resources.)
- Is there a gap between families’ perception of school outreach and staff’s perception of outreach? If so, what may be the disconnect?
- Do families and staff have the capacity and resources they need to partner for positive student outcomes? If not, what extra supports are needed?
- Consider how these results different from past family, school, and community partnerships (e.g. prior to COVID-19).
- Survey examples - Learning and Adapting
- Family Preparation
- Family, School, Community Partnerships Framework and Self-Assessment Rubrics
- Teacher and Family perception survey for gap analysis
- Promising Partnership Practices
- Local community need strategies with evidence-based solutions using the local context
Area 4. Engage Educators
- How will engage your teachers in response planning?
- How will you utilize existing data, such as staff responses TLCC survey to ensure that staff needs are being met?
- Survey examples - Learning and Adapting
- Teaching and Learning Conditions Colorado (TLCC) survey
- CDE Educator Resources
- What process might we use to help us identify root causes?
- What are the gaps in performance relative to the student, staff, and parents and community data analysis?
- What might be the root causes of the student, staff, and parents and community data analysis?
- What additional data might we need to validate our root causes?
- Are these root causes focused on adult actions under the control of the district or school?
Review Slides 7-13
This section is accessed by clicking on the Section III tab, then clicking through the sub-navigation.
The online UIP includes six components that weave together to create the Data Narrative:
- Brief Description
- Prior Year Targets
- Current Performance
- Trend Analysis
- Priority Performance Challenges
- Root Causes
Return-On-Investment (ROI) is a tool for improving resource efficiency to maximize the impact of limited resources. This approach begins with considering the fundamental needs of students that need to be addressed. It is not intended to determine which program is better, or what resources will meet the need.
Education Resource Strategies (ERS) issued a publication in October 2014 entitled Return on Investment in Education: A "System-Strategy" Approach to K-12 ROI that provides useful information in considering ROI. Below is a summary of guiding questions in the publication that may be used by districts to think about ROI as they consider both existing practices and new practices.
Guiding Questions to Support Determination of ROI:
Identify the core need
- What fundamental student performance needs is the district focusing on, and what is the theory of change for addressing it?
- What fundamental student needs are being targeted?
- What performance target does the district want to reach, and what outcome measures will be used to gauge progress and success?
- What evidence- and/or research-based strategies might meet the identified need? See CDE’s ESSA Planning Requirements page for more information on strong evidence-based practices and ESSA’s levels of evidence.
Consider a broad range of investment options
- What are the investments the district has currently made to address this need, and what else could be done?
- What is our theory of action for meeting this student's needs?
- What seems to cause the need?
- Have you conducted empathy interviews to determine and better define the problem you are working to solve?
- What activities or programs can we stop to create staff capacity?
- What does the district currently invest in this area or toward this end?
- What people, time, and money does the district currently invest in programs, instruction, and support targeted at related outcomes?
- Do current investments align with the district's theory of action, and is there evidence that current investments are working?
- Are there things that are not working well? If these are discontinued, can these resources be redirected toward more productive options?
- What evidence- and/or research-based practices might be more effective than current programs/investments?
- What broader alternatives can be imagined that would address the same set of student needs?
- How does what is currently being done support or interact with the proposed option? Are there dependencies that should be clarified?
- What would have to be true of any new investment for it to be better than what is currently being done? How likely is that scenario?
Define ROI metrics and gather data
- What are the relative returns (costs weighed against benefits) to the set of current/potential options?
- In defining an RIO metric, three major questions should be considered. First, what is the likely impact on student learning? Second, how many students will this impact? Finally, How much will it cost to fully fund the initiative?
- Teaching and Learning Toolkit - shows the cost, evidence strengths, and impacts (months) from the Education Endowment Foundation
- What is the likely Impact on Student Learning?
- What kind of data is currently available on the impact of the various policies, investments, or initiatives that have been identified? What’s the source?
- How relevant is the data to the particular student performance need the district has identified? Was the same question studied or an analogous one? How closely does it match the district’s current context, capabilities, and planned change?
- How reliable were the observed outcomes? Was there wide variation in results across studies? Were they gold standard randomized controlled studies, small local pilots, or anything in between?
- Did fidelity of implementation play a role in outcomes?
- What are the mitigating or enabling factors?
- Does this policy generate a one-time or a multiple-year impact on student learning?
- How does combining various policies affect the expected impact of each on student performance?
- How transferable are the observed outcomes to our context? What are the limitations? Or what could go better?
- How Many Students Will This Impact?
- What student group(s) will benefit from the investment?
- Are there students who are not targeted but will also be affected?
- How Much Will it Cost to Fully Fund the Initiative?
- Start-up or Transition Cost:
- What are the start-up/one-time costs required to initiate and transition to a steady state?
- How long will the district need to invest above steady state and at what level to achieve the planned sustained student improvement?
- Ongoing or Sustaining Cost:
- What is the annual recurring cost to sustain the initiative at steady state? (e.g., staff, materials, PD, regular updates) Is it expected to rise or decline over time?
- Indirect Cost:
- What else will need to be spent to achieve the desired result?
- Is there infrastructure on which this initiative depends? Will that need to be upgraded?
Weigh investment options
- What other factors do we need to consider, in order to select from among the options?
- Which option(s) have the highest likely return in the district’s current context?
- How does this choice fit with other district priorities, performance targets, and constraints?
- What is likely to happen if the district does not move forward with this option now?
Make investment decisions
- How can the district free existing resources to do what it wants to do?
- Is the district pursuing high-cost strategies that are not shown in the literature to be effective?
- Is the district investing a lot of money, per-pupil, in areas that may not be district goals?
Districts may also find additional resources to fund priority investments by identifying misalignment, those accumulated spending patterns based on historical policies and practices, but which no longer achieve the necessary student impact results nor align with current strategic priorities.
Review Slide 14
Priority Performance Challenges
Components of a High-Quality Action Plan to Address the Identified Needs
The following items listed below are recommended components of a response plan. As you will notice, many of the areas are parts of the improvement planning process. Many schools may be able to build their response plan into their UIP. Brief descriptions of each category as well as resources for each that may help the team in creating a plan are below:
Timeline: The plan should include a timeline of key events and activities aimed at implementing the strategy.
Human Resources/Talent: The additional staff members, training, or support that are needed should be included, especially given the funding available that is targeted to learning impacts.
- Professional development
- Teacher evaluation
- Leadership structure / ownership
Communications: The goal of this section is to articulate and plan out how the team will ensure that the entire community (families, board, district staff, school staff) understand what the team is focusing on, what it is addressing, and how this will help the community impact students and staff.
Budget/Fiscal Resources: The intention is to identify the large funding sources that are being used to support this initiative and strategy. The team may consider starting with the stimulus funds and include other large sources. This is to help ensure continuity and to communicate how the district/school is using the funds to address COVID-19 impacts.
Progress Monitoring/Benchmarks: The length of the plan is determined by the team and there is space to identify what practices, changes, or intermediate outcomes might be visible that help the district see progress. This is recommended both at intermediate and end of plan components.
Targets/Outcomes: Student level targets and outcomes should be set to identify the goals of the overall response plan.
CDE has created a template for a district level response tool that could be used to create, document, and monitor the district’s response plan. This excel template can be used in place of action steps and implementation benchmarks within the online UIP system if the Major Improvement Strategies are the same.
Review Slides 17-21
Next, use the Planning Form to create the Action Plan. For each major improvement strategy, implementation benchmarks and action steps must be completed.
Implementation benchmarks detail a progress monitoring plan for the major improvement strategies. They should indicate what practical measurements will be used to track the implementation of the strategies, and should assign timelines and key personnel to monitor progress.
Expanded Learning Opportunities
“Expanded learning opportunities are structured learning environments that occur outside of the traditional school day through before- and after-school, summer, and extended-day, -week, -year programs. These programs offer more personalized learning opportunities for students in areas such as the arts, civic engagement, and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), as well as mentorship and general academic support. ELOs offer a safe place for students to be outside of schools hours where they can supplement and support their education” (National Conference of State Legislatures).1
ELOs should focus on accelerating learning rather than focusing on remediation. ELOs should be motivating learning experiences for students to ignite their passion for learning new knowledge and skills and help them envision and experience academic success.
The purpose of this toolkit section is to provide resources to assist district and school leaders in developing and implementing ELOs to advance equity, promote student wellbeing and connectedness, and accelerate student learning in response to learning opportunity losses.
This toolkit section provides resources to help district and school leaders implement ELO options of restructuring and/or extending the school day, out-of-school time programming, summer learning, and tutoring. As the toolkit develops, the resources in this section will expand to include examples of ELOs opportunities Colorado school districts are providing as well as options for addressing common problems of practice.
Attending to Wellbeing and Connectedness
Students learn best in a safe and supportive learning environment, a condition that is even more important for students who have experienced long periods of remote learning and potential trauma due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When establishing out of school programs, district and school leaders should intentionally plan for attending the wellbeing of students.
The following considerations from CDE’s resources for Wellbeing and Connection During COVID-19 can help:
Maintain staff/student relationships
Create a sense of belonging and connection for students and staff
Emphasize respect, safety and community
Monitor students and develop a process for those who are struggling
Practice mindfulness with students and staff
Equity and Cultural Responsiveness
Intentional focus on equity considerations and cultural responsiveness is critical when planning and implementing expanded learning opportunities. Attention should be paid to providing:
Opportunities that are free, at locations and times convenient to students and families
Transportation options that work for students and families
Multi-age options to enable participation of all children in a family
Options that reflect the culture, interests, and needs of participating students
Community Partnership Considerations
Engaging with community partners can help schools and districts provide a greater range of options and resources for students and families. Collaboration between schools, districts and community organizations such as nonprofits, public libraries, museums and other cultural and arts institutions, faith-based organizations, private businesses, and philanthropic organizations enables meaningful, well-rounded educational opportunities for students. In particular, public libraries provide many resources to assist communities without high speed internet, devices, and/or technical knowledge, including extended wifi into the parking lot, circulating hotspots and devices, computer classes, print on demand services, and one-on-one tech assistance, all for free.
Summer learning has been a common practice to provide additional learning time for remediation, acceleration, and enrichment. As school and district leaders consider options for recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, summer learning programming can be a useful strategy.
Research on equitable summer learning indicates the following core components achieve the greatest positive impact on student learning, mental health and social emotional development. Consider these strategies helpful reminders when designing programming for summer school.
Planning for Summer Learning
A key to achieving outcomes for summer learning programs is effective planning.
- Establish the purpose and goals of summer programming by ensuring that there is a clearly articulated purpose for summer learning that connects to the school’s vision and mission.1
- Establish goals for summer learning that are tied to learning and school-year metrics, such as fall assessments2 or diagnostics.3
- Plan for sustainability to encourage consecutive summers of participation for students.4
Structuring Summer Learning
The structure for summer learning sets the stage for student outcomes.
- Summer learning has the largest effect on student achievement when it is five5 or six weeks6 in duration and four to eight hours a day.7
- Summer learning programs create the highest gains in achievement when there are small class sizes. Twenty students or less8 with as few as thirteen in grades K-3.9
- Identify ways to reduce barriers by providing, transportation, and meals free of charge to facilitate access for families with low incomes
- Provide flexibility for families through full and part day options, flexible drop off times, and regularity of attendance, especially when early planning was not available for families.10
Designing Instruction for Summer Learning
In order to achieve positive outcomes, instruction must be carefully designed.
- Use curricula that is evidence-based, aligned to school-year activities and students’ learning goals11, and is experiential.12
- Maximize participation and increase engagement and time on task through hands-on activities, project-based learning, enrichment, and field trips.13
- Focus on success in the upcoming academic year by aligning activities to the upcoming grade in a few critical areas.14
- Support effective instruction through teacher professional development15and coaching16provided by administrators and/or coaches, and include any additional staff (paraprofessionals, tutors, mentors) who will be supporting instruction.17
Staffing Summer Learning
Ensuring qualified, trained, and motivated staff for summer learning is critical.
- Select highly qualified teachers and tutors for academic programming, and provide opportunities for effective personnel development.
- Teachers selected to deliver summer instruction have been found to be most effective when they are:
- certified and highly effective during the school year.
- teach a grade level that they teach during the school year, or the grade level immediately below.
- Tutors have been found to be most effective when having participated in effective professional development on the topics for which they will be providing professional development and receive ongoing support or coaching.18
Engaging Students and Families for Summer Learning
Summer learning can only be effective if the right students are targeted and families are effectively engaged.
- Target outreach to families and enroll students.
- Determine which students summer programming will target, prioritizing demonstrated student needs, students from families with low-incomes, and students that do not typically access educational experiences during summer months.19
- Target families for enrollment, providing:20
- clear dates which are communicated early,
- an easy registration process,
- clear enrollment deadline, and
- clear attendance policies.
- Engage the community
- Engage the whole community21 to provide culturally relevant enrichment activities and offer balanced summer programming and services, consider
- libraries and museums
- community mental health services
- recreation departments
- community early care and education programs
- Engage the whole community21 to provide culturally relevant enrichment activities and offer balanced summer programming and services, consider
- Scale up existing programs that have demonstrated positive impact
- Engage students and families during each phase of planning, implementing, and evaluating summer programming.
6Augustine, et al, 2016; McCombs, Augustine, Pane, & Schweig, 2020 and Reopening
19Browne, 2019 and Afterschool Alliance
20Re-pull footnotes from the strategy doc and Reopening
Tutoring can be an effective intervention for many students when implemented using evidence-based practices. Although people often think of tutoring as one-on-one help from a private individual outside of a school setting, recent research on effective tutoring programs has focused on school-based programs involving human instruction aimed at supplementing classroom-based education, usually for groups of no more than six students that meet three or more days per week. This definition does not include computer-based supplemental instruction or small-group instruction that replaces grade level instruction.
Using trained educators as tutors.
- Tutoring works best when led by teachers, paraprofessionals, teaching candidates, recently retired teachers, or highly trained tutors who receive a stipend (e.g., AmeriCorps members) and when time for planning and collaboration is provided with the classroom teachers.
Wherever possible, conducting tutoring during the school day.
- Tutoring programs that take place during the school day appear to have the largest effects. Afterschool tutoring programs have also been shown to have positive, although smaller, effects.
Providing high dosage tutoring each week.
- For example, programs that included frequently (e.g. daily or at least three sessions per week) of at least 30-50 minutes work best. The youngest students (e.g., early childhood through 1st grade) benefit from increased weekly sessions.
Aligning with an evidence-based core curriculum or use an evidence-based program and practices.
- Take specific actions to support student learning, including using quizzing, asking deep explanatory questions, spacing learning over time, incorporating worked example solutions with problem-solving exercises, connecting and integrating abstract and concrete representations of concepts, and combining graphical representations — like figures and graphs — with verbal descriptions.
Emphasizing attendance and focused work time during out-of-school tutoring.
- Experts have suggested that after school tutoring programs may have shown smaller effects than in-school programs because less tutoring occurs. However, out-of-school time programs can be effective. To promote the best results, ensure these programs provide high-dosage tutoring.
- CDE’s High Dosage Tutoring Strategy Guide, a resource for district and school leaders for implementing improvement strategies
- Volume 2 of the ED COVID-19 Handbook, a publication of the U.S. Department of Education
- National Student Support Accelerator, a project of Annenberg at Brown University. Their resources include a toolkit for tutoring programs and program focus resources for schools or districts looking to develop or expand their tutoring programs.
- Strategies to Solve Unfinished Learning: Targeted Intensive Tutoring, a brief document from Education Trust and MDRC staff that highlights best practices for targeted intensive tutoring in the COVID-19 pandemic.
- ProvenTutoring.org, a clearinghouse of research on reading and mathematics tutoring programs established as a project of the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University and continued as a subsidiary of the Success for All Foundation. (NOTE: Some reading programs listed on this site may not be approved under the READ Act.)
- A Blueprint for Scaling Tutoring Across Public Schools, a whitepaper that discusses key elements for a national K-12 tutoring program.
Out of School Time
Out of School Time (OST) is defined as "a supervised program that young people regularly attend when school is not in session. This can include before- and after- school programs on a school campus or facilities such as academic programs (e.g., reading or math focused programs), specialty programs (e.g., sports teams, STEM, arts enrichment), and multipurpose programs that provide an array of activities (e.g., 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs)".1
Maximize student engagement in school
- ...by encouraging both school-day attendance as well as participation in OST programming.
- Re-engage students through interest-based, hands-on activities, which can be offered both in person and virtually.
Provide academic support for students who need additional help
- ...with school-day learning such as in math and reading, using certified teachers and/or trained staff as well as evidence-based approaches that are aligned with school-day content and practices
Provide targeted instruction based on student needs
- ...as demonstrated by periodic diagnostic/formative assessments of student learning, to ensure students have the opportunity to catch up and keep up in their learning
Provide engaging learning experiences that foster a lifelong love of reading and learning
- ...by offering innovative and creative activities students do not have the opportunity to participate in during the school day
Assess program effectiveness and use results to improve
- ...making sure that OST programs are having the most effective impact on students' learning, engagement, and wellbeing
Attend to student physical health and wellbeing and connectedness
- ...by offering physical health and wellness activities in OST programs as well as a safe and meaningful learning environment where students can make meaningful connections with peers and trusted adults
Engage families in their student's learning
- ...by offering opportunities for active and meaningful engagement in their children's education, including opportunities for literacy and related educational development.
- Consider including grandparents and engaging families by seeking parental input on hours, structure and offerings, student choice.
Promote community partnerships
- ...to look beyond the school building in bolstering capacity (including staffing) for OST programs to serve as many students and families as possible
Build upon student interests and include self-directed and real-world learning components
- ...such as hands-on activities, project-based and experiential learning, and field trips
Work to provide all students with public library cards
- ...to provide free access to a wealth of online resources (ebooks, downloadable audiobooks, databases), physical collections (books, magazines, audiobooks, films, unusual learning items, digital devices), and in-house computer and printer use.
To best accelerate learning, out-of-school time programs should include evidence-based approaches.
Programs ideally should:
- Target students needing additional support (including using information provided by diagnostic assessments).
- Have certified teachers deliver the academic instruction.
- Engage the students in using experiential instruction that incorporates hands-on activities, project based learning, enrichment, and field trips.2
OST programming can support students' academic achievement by providing a safe, positive learning environment for students outside of the school day.
- Helping students catch up and keep up academically;
- Keeping students safe and engaged, and keeping students learning when schools are closed or parents/caregivers are working;
- Providing social and emotional support that students need to emerge from this crisis strong, resilient and hopeful;
- Helping schools and community partners provide essential needs (such as food) to kids and families who need it most;
- Fostering a lifelong love of reading and learning;
- Providing connections and wraparound supports to families; and
- Helping families overcome technology challenges and ensure kids have access to learning platforms.3
The most common types of OST activities are:
- Academic support such as homework help, tutoring, credit recovery, apprenticeships/internships/externships, literacy and STEM and the arts.
- Enrichment programming such as physical activities, outdoor activities, the arts, social and emotional learning, and service learning.
- Family engagement activities such as classes for two-generation involvement, parenting, English and GED classes.
- Colorado Afterschool Partnerships
- Denver Afterschool Alliance
- Directory of Colorado Public Libraries
- College and career readiness, internships, apprenticeships (ELSSR)
- Schoolhouse.world (connected to Kahn academy, free online tutoring)
- Summerlearning.org services, programs & events, public library programs
- (ELSSR) "Expanded Learning Programs are Essential for Covid-19 Recovery: Key Principles for Expanding Learning to Support Student Re-Engagement." Afterschool Alliance March 2021 Brief
- (HASSL) "How Afterschool Supports Students' Learning." Afterschool Alliance Handout
Restructuring/Extending the School Day
Re-envisioning the traditional school day may allow educators to meet the needs of learners impacted by COVID by keeping learning constant and making time the variable. The strategies offered on this page are intended to provide a starting point for educators in need of ideas to expand learning time.
Increasing the number of hours of instruction students receive during the school day
- ...(either during nonacademic class periods or by extending the official school day) can be effective for all age groups, types of students, and subject matter.
Extended learning programs are most effective when students are instructed in small groups of 10-15.
Programs that offer 44 to 100 hours of additional instruction have been shown to have an impact on student learning.
Offer time for teachers to collaborate across grade levels
- Educators might need to realign their instructional focus in spring, summer, and fall 2021, and as necessary beyond, to help get students back on track.
- Use high-quality assessments, such as diagnostic and formative tools, that provide timely information to help educators know where to focus learning for particular students. Educators should differentiate instruction without tracking students or limiting the depth and quality of instruction they receive.
- Support educators in using approaches to acceleration that prioritize engaging students and peer collaboration, including through project-based learning and opportunities for students to support each other in their learning.
Strategies for elementary students should account for their unique learning needs.
- Create a soft start to the day such as offering tutoring.
- Consider creating innovative names for enrichment programs outside of the school day such as “School Name University”.
- Expand traditional learning schedules to include “double dosing” in core subjects to provide more learning time for students.
- Before or after school guided study halls can be created where students can receive additional support from instructors.
- For the youngest learners try to keep a ratio of 15 minutes of focus time to 5 minutes of rest or play.
- Secondary schools may utilize a zero hour or additional period at the end of the day to enable additional learning time.
- Offer and subsidize school programming outside of instructional hours (e.g., before/after) across range of topics (academic, social emotional, athletic, etc.) to provide students with additional structured learning environments.
- For secondary learners try to keep a ratio of 30 minutes of focus time with 5 minutes for a cognitive break.
- Doubling Recess: This link contains an article from Education Week on the mental and physical benefits of increasing recess for your youngest learners.
- How Schools Can Help Kids Heal After A Year of Crisis and Uncertainty Article: This link contains an article from National Public Radio on how educators can support students in re-engaging with in person learning after the worst of the pandemic.
- Restarting and Reinventing School: This link contains a policy report from the Learning Policy Institute that offers ten priorities to consider for restarting and reinventing school during COVID-19
- Roadmap To Reopening: This link contains a policy report from the US Department of Education that offers three key ideas (Creating Safe and Healthy Learning Environments, Addressing Lost Instructional Time and Addressing Resource Inequities) for educators to consider when reopening schools.
- P20 Council Learning Renewal Resource Guide: This link contains a policy report from the Illinois P-20 council which provides restart strategies and informational guidance on federal spending decisions.
- Time and Schools: What the Research Says: This link contains an article from Education Week on the academic impact of time in school.
- Strategies To Solve Unfinished Learning: This link contains a policy report from the Education Trust on strategies to address unfinished learning brought about by the pandemic.
Instruction and Intervention
The purpose of this section of the toolkit is to provide information on resources to assist districts in developing and implementing instruction and interventions to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the differential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, this section is organized by subcategories so that district and school leaders can locate and access targeted resources based upon their need(s). The options throughout this section provide considerations for both in-person, hybrid and remote learning environments to focus on academic needs. While the Colorado Department of Education does not endorse the external resources linked on this page, different resources are included to help district and school leaders identify and evaluate additional options to support response planning.
Planning Instruction and Interventions Best Practices
The resources in this section focus on foundation considerations when planning for instruction and intervention.
Colorado Multi-Tiered System of Supports
Response planning for instruction and intervention should occur within a research-based framework. Colorado's Multi-Tiered System of Supports (COMTSS) is a framework that can be applied at the district and school level to create one integrated system. This system is designed to support the needs of all students. MTSS resources and tools are organized by: team driven shared leadership, data-based problem solving and decision-making, family, school, and community partnering, layered continuum of supports, and evidence-based practices. Districts and schools can access free, online professional learning modules through the MTSS Online Academy.
Colorado's Academic Standards
The Colorado Academic Standards (CAS) articulate what students should know, understand, and be able to do for each grade level and content are. CDE's standards resources assist districts and educators in implementing the standards. Effective implementation involves building standards literacy, aligning curriculum, conducting a gap analysis, filling gaps , and ensuring high impact instruction for all content areas.
Major Improvement Strategy Guides
The Major Improvement Strategy Guides help schools and districts better understand what research says about strategies that are commonly used in Unified Improvement Plans. Strategy topics include: Summer School, High-Dosage Tutoring, Attendance, Learning Loss Recovery, Teacher Retention, and Distributive Leadership.
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
Instruction and intervention occurs within an MTSS framework, which includes intentional focus on the behavioral needs of students. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a prevention-based framework for organizing evidence-based behavioral supports into an integrated continuum that enhances academic and social outcomes for all students. Resources are organized by a tiered continuum of support and include sample teaming documents, school and classroom expectations, behavioral management strategies, PBIS training, and coaching material.
CCSSO High-Quality Curriculum and Resources
Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) High-Quality Curriculum and Resources document includes recommendations for free, high-quality curricular materials in ELA, mathematics, and science that can be used in both in-person and remote learning settings.
Hybrid Learning Guide
CDE's Hybrid Learning Guide was developed to aid in the planning and implementation of hybrid models as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The guide is designed for Colorado schools that need to transition to a hybrid learning model for instruction.
Remote Learning Guidance and Supports
The Office of Blended and Online Learning maintains a page for schools and districts to access information and guidance related to remote learning. This page includes: guidance for using Colorado Empowered Learning, online options guidance for the 2020-21 school year and beyond, a listing of active online schools and programs across the state, networking opportunities for educators providing virtual/remote learning, and engagement opportunities with staff from CDE.
TNTP Learning Acceleration Guide
The New Teacher Project's (TNTP) Learning Acceleration Guide gives educators an alternative to typical approaches to remediation (such as "meeting students where they are") by encouraging accelerating learning with grade-appropriate content and strong instruction.
The Rethinking Intervention project from Instruction Partners is a series of conversations with education leaders, researchers, and practitioners who think deeply about what drives and challenges “intervention” and how we can accelerate student learning after many months away from school.
EdResearch and Recovery
EdResearch for Recovery Project has developed evidence briefs to inform recovery strategies. Based on a developing list of questions from policymakers and practitioners, a variety of evidence briefs are provided by topic area (e.g. student learning, school climate, supporting all students).
Instructional Delivery and Assessment Models Best Practices
The resources in this section highlight practices for delivering high quality instruction and intervention.
Colorado Assessment Literacy Program
Assessment is foundational to instructional design and delivery. CDE’s assessment literacy program helps educators design, implement and use a variety of assessments effectively to guide and support instruction, and make important programmatic and resource decisions that benefit all students. This resource provides online learning modules, customized workshops conducted by CDE staff, and extensive, vetted resources.
Collaboratively-Developed Standards-Based Performance Assessments
This resource provides collaboratively-developed standards-based performance assessments that students can use to demonstrate their readiness to graduate from high school. The CDE is working to provide tools, templates and examples that will be made available for each performance assessment approach, such as tasks, culminating events, and graduation defenses.
Evidence-based Training in Teaching Reading for K -3 Teachers
Teachers who understand the science of teaching reading can assess and provide instruction in reading to meet the needs of students. The K - 3 teacher training is tied to the Colorado READ Act. The anticipated impact is that teachers will begin to use scientifically and evidence-based practices when teaching reading which will then lead to more students reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade.
High Impact Instruction in Diverse Learning Settings
This CDE-developed resource provides guides for each of the content areas addressed by the Colorado Academic Standards. These documents aim to inform educators about what instruction should ideally look like given a variety of instructional settings.
University of Florida Literacy Institute Virtual Teaching Resource Hub
This website provides online lessons, structures, and resources for students who are learning virtually. It includes behavior, managing attention and literacy support using the Science of Reading. These resources can be used within an actual classroom, as well as online. Directions for each of the lessons are included.
Kastner Literacy Collection: Decodables
Dr. Pam Kastner has developed a Wakelet that uses evidence-based resources to teach and use decodable texts with PK-5th grade students. Resources include explanations of best practices, free decodable resources, and videos of professionals involved with the Science of Reading explaining the research behind the use of decodables.
Planning for instruction and intervention for young children should consider their unique needs. This page provides resources in important foundations for instructing young children.
Developmentally Appropriate Practice
This resource reflects new research that underscores the importance of social, cultural, and historical contexts of development and elevates the need for active engagement through play, exploration, and inquiry in ways that support the whole child.
COVID-19 Handbook Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students' Needs
This resource provides federal guidance and support for students' social, emotional, physical, mental health, and academic needs and educator and staff wellbeing.
Seven Impacts of the Pandemic on Young Children and their Parents
The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) summarized key findings on seven impacts the pandemic has had on young children and their parents.
Restart & Recovery: Considerations for Teaching & Learning: PreK to 3rd Grade Recovery
This resource from the Council of Chief State School Officers provides a comprehensive set of recommendations that considers conditions in school systems (i.e., engagement, technology, staffing, etc.), wellbeing and connections (for staff, students, and families), and academics (including curriculum, instruction, and PD).
English Language Learner Resources
The needs of English Learners should be a part of instruction and intervention planning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This page provides resources to assist school and district leaders.
Supporting English Learners
To assist the education community or the general public with resources for English learners, CDE’s Office of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education has identified instructional resources for English learners which provides links to external websites.
Supporting English Learners in the COVID-19 Crisis
This resource was developed by the Council of the Great City Schools to help districts prepare to reopen schools in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years. This resource includes: screening and placement, instructional practices and technology, English language development, staffing, professional development, assessment, and family engagement.
Understanding Language: Principles of ELL Instruction
The Understanding Language District Engagement subcommittee has developed a set of six key principles for instruction that helps ELLs meet the rigorous, grade level academic standards found in the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.
Uncharted Waters: How a whole-system approach can help districts chart a course to equity and excellence
This paper provides seven concrete action steps and discusses how a whole-system approach to continuous learning and improvement can support equity and excellence.
Supports for Students who are English Learners
This brief provides K-12 education decision makers and advocates with an evidence-base to ground discussions about how to best serve English Learners during and following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Supports for Students in Immigrant Families
This brief provides K-12 education decision makers and advocates with an evidence base to ground discussions about how to best serve immigrant students and their families during and following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Educating English Learners during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Policy Ideas for States and School Districts
The topline recommendations of this analysis offer ways in which education leaders can build and reinforce equity structures within school systems as a new academic year—and era—in education begins.
Funding English Learner Education: Making the Most of Policy and Budget Levers
The brief lays out a number of ways educators at the federal, state, and local levels could work to increase the adequacy and equity of funding for English Learner education.
Exceptional Learners - Gifted and Special Education Resources
The impact of the pandemic on students with disabilities or who are gifted should be a part of school and district planning for instruction and intervention. This section provides leaders with resources to assist with the unique needs of these students.
CDE Special Education Resources
CDE’s Special Education resources support the delivery of high-quality instruction and intervention are organized on the website by disability category. Under the categories there are resources, technical assistant opportunities, trainings, lending libraries, and online courses.
CDE’s COVID-19 and Special Education Webpage
These Exceptional Student Services Unit (ESSU) webpages are continuously expanding to support educators who serve, and families of Colorado children with disabilities through the provision of Special Education-specific information and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities
This resource provides tips and strategies to support teachers, parents, and the students served in the virtual environment.
COVID-19 Resources for Schools, Students, and Families
The U.S. Department of Education website provides resources for communities, educators, and families that empower students to continue pursuing their education goals.
High Leverage Practices Leadership Guides
The Council for Exceptional Children developed 22 High Leverage Practices (HLP) guides intended for school leaders to support their teams in effectively implementing the HLP in the classroom. The guides include tips for school leaders to support teachers, questions to prompt discussion, self-reflection and observer feedback, observable behaviors for teachers implementing the HLPs, and references and additional resources on each HLP.
Supporting Your Gifted Child During COVID-19
This brief provides resources for supporting the social and emotional well being of gifted learners. This tool includes information to help parents support their gifted children by developmental stages.
Homeless and Foster Care Resources
When planning for instruction and intervention, attention to the unique needs of students experiencing homeless or in foster care should be made.
Recommendations to Address the Inequitable Impacts of COVID-19 in Child Welfare, Housing, and Community Capacity
This brief examines the impact of COVID-19 in three areas: child welfare, youth and family homelessness, and community capacity to address the needs of children and families.
COVID-19 FAQ for Supporting Students in Foster Care
CDE has curated information for school personnel and caregivers regarding the unique needs of students in foster care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lost in the Masked Shuffle Virtual Void: Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness Amidst The Pandemic
This resource provides key findings during the pandemic for children and youth experiencing homelessness.
Secondary Student Resources
Instruction and intervention for secondary students in response to the COVID-19 pandemic should involve consideration of student engagement and dropout prevention. This page provides resources to help school and district leaders with strategies to support their secondary students.
Dropout Prevention in the Time of COVID-19
This short paper provides a number of concrete interventions that schools and districts can implement immediately to support dropout prevention in the COVID-19 era. Multiple links to other resources are available for deeper understanding.
Colorado COVID Related Dropout Prevention Framework
This framework includes information shared by schools and districts across Colorado that have identified strategies and promising practices as related to student engagement and dropout prevention. This resource is complementary to the Colorado Dropout Prevention Framework.
Back to School- Exploring Promising Practices for Re-engaging Young People in Secondary Education
A comprehensive resource that provides multiple proven strategies for re-engaging secondary students. This white paper "explores the ways to strengthen and expand re-engagement options for young people who need more time or different pathways in order to finish high school."
Postsecondary and Workforce Ready
The Office of Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness supports districts, BOCES, and schools in thinking through the personalization of a pathway through high school and on to college and career for every student in Colorado. The webpage includes resources on individualizing education via career guidance and pathway development to increase student engagement and build relevancy for student learning. It also includes programs that help students to earn college credit while in high school.
Wellbeing and Connectedness
As districts continue working to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of wellbeing and connectedness for students and staff members is a primary consideration. Students and staff members are more successful in learning and teaching when they feel connected and experience a sense of belonging to a supportive community. Social connection is a driver of wellbeing and helps reduce anxiety, depression, and disciplinary issues, while increasing positive affect, self-esteem, and academic progress. The options throughout this section provide considerations for all learning environments to focus on human connections.
While most dictionaries define wellbeing as the state of being happy, healthy, and comfortable, many organizations expand the definition to include a list of factors such as engagement, learning, making contributions, self-expression, physical wellness and activity, mindfulness, and resilience.
The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) defines school connectedness as the belief by students that adults and peers in the school care about their learning as well as about them as individuals and cites that "students are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors and succeed academically when they feel connected to school." (School Connectedness) Evidence-based strategies for improving school connectedness are included throughout this section of the Toolkit.
Sense of Belonging
This is a sense that one has a rightful place in a given academic setting and can claim full membership in a school and classroom community. A sense of belonging strengthens resilience, increases connection, and promotes positive development.
Positive School Climate
A positive school climate is foundational to the academic promise of the school. It reflects a supportive and fulfilling environment, high expectations, and teaching and learning conditions that meet the needs of all students and their families. Positive school climate refers to the work of a school community to create a quality experience for all students, staff, and families.
Accessibility and Inclusion
The suggestions and resources in this toolkit are for all students, families, and school staff. All student populations have felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to address the wellbeing of ALL students, to provide social connections for all students, and to address accessibility to learning by recognizing and responding to each and every student's needs.
While all students need universal support, some students may benefit from those specifically designed to meet their individual needs. Some students with disabilities may have characteristics that make connecting with peers and teachers more difficult. Students who are English Learners may experience a sense of cultural deprivation. Students who are economically disadvantaged may not have the technology experience or opportunities to connect with their school classmates. Gifted and talented students may be more prone to social and emotional concerns. Ensuring accessibility to instruction and socialization ensures participation for all.
Theory of Action about School Climate Work
The following chart is intended to help support a school-based process to support a positive school climate and culture:
Tools and Strategies
As school and district leaders plan for the the 2021-2022 academic year, use of an engagement survey or other check-in tool may provide useful information. The list below includes evidence-based resources. While the Colorado Department of Education does not endorse the external resources linked on this page, links are provided to help school and district leaders identify and evaluate resources.
[U.S. Department of Education School Climate Surveys, National Center]
Strategies for Wellbeing and Connectedness
Whether students have been learning remotely, through a hybrid model, or in full-time in-person instruction, educators are facing the challenges of re-engaging, managing behaviors that may have changed significantly during isolation, addressing inequities experienced by their students, and adjusting their own teaching styles. All students may experience differences in learning environment and structures. Re-forming relationships with peers they may have seen only online for a year, returning to an environment which has different rules and structures than they have experienced at home, and recalibrating their emotional and physical reactions may be hurdles many students face.
Strategies for Learning Settings:
Build and maintain trusting relationships between staff and students by regularly checking in on each student’s wellbeing, learning about their interests, and helping each student engage in school to find purpose/meaning in their learning.
Create space in classrooms or online that will allow for students to emotionally regulate.
Differentiate learning and allow for different expectations for students, keeping in mind that each student may be at a different point in their understanding and learning.
Encourage open, respectful communication about differing viewpoints.
Encourage student voice by inviting students to contribute to school and classroom rules as well as regularly seek input about the student experience.
Find a way for each student to fit into the class. Help students find purpose within the classroom and purpose or meaning for learning.
Help students rebuild a sense of confidence and competence.
Monitor for changes in behavior.
Provide opportunities for students to improve their interpersonal skills, such as problem-solving, conflict resolution, self-control, communication, negotiation, and sharing.
Provide predictability and consistency in daily routines to reduce stress and promote positive learning conditions.
Support students in developing the academic, emotional, and social skills necessary to be actively engaged in school.
Take time to cultivate wellbeing and attend to the increased mental health needs of students and staff by incorporating activities that give students and staff some relief from the daily stress.
Teach students to be mindful so that they have an awareness of their body - emotional warning signs, physical sensations that are produced by different emotional states.
Use effective classroom management and teaching methods to foster a positive learning environment.
- Be aware of students who may have challenging home environments that may be indicative of abuse and neglect. Assess students for abuse virtually and in person.
- Collaborate across school faculty and staff to make sure no student “falls through the cracks.”
- Communicate regularly with the school community (i.e., announcements, emails, online meetings, video messages, office hours) and encourage the use of student support staff to also reach out to students and families to promote a sense of community and belonging.
- Consider asking families about their needs connected to social-emotional wellbeing.
- Consider training for staff on how to identify signs of struggle in students and establish a clear referral process for teachers to report any students who need additional support.
- Create decision-making processes that facilitate student, family, and community engagement; academic achievement; and staff empowerment.
- Encourage the use of specialized support personnel (social workers, school counselors, psychologists) to reach out to students in-person, online, or via telephone.
- Monitor cyberbullying and create a space for reporting of harassment and bullying that takes place online or in school.
- Provide education and opportunities to enable families to be actively involved in their children’s academic and school life.
- Create clear communication to all staff regarding plans, expectations, reviewing needs, re-engagement, and any policies. When in doubt, over-communicate!
- Create opportunities for staff to engage in self-care as well as to build and maintain relationships with one another that allow for collaboration, idea sharing, and support.
- Create trusting and caring relationships that promote open communication among administrators, teachers, staff, students, families, and communities.
- Educate school staff on strategies to effectively involve parents in their children’s school life.
- Identify, and help students identify, applications that can be used for meditation, calm breathing, and relaxation.
- Implement periodic personal check-ins among staff, faculty, and leadership personnel.
- Provide multiple options whenever possible for staff experiencing an impact on mental health so that their strengths might be leveraged in a different way.
- Provide professional development and support for teachers and other school staff to enable them to meet the diverse cognitive, emotional, and social needs of children and adolescents.
For the longer term, beyond the reopening of the 2021-2022 school year, consider the need for on-going support for the wellbeing of staff and students.
- Connect with your community health center or local public health facility to determine their ability to share or provide counselors, crisis intervention, or other supports.
- Use United Way’s 2-1-1 to help expand school partnerships with community organizations. United Way 2-1-1 is a free, multilingual, confidential service that connects citizens to agencies and services that help meet the basic needs of students and their families.
- Colorado Crisis Services has a 24/7/365 helpline for anyone affected by a mental health, substance use, or emotional crisis. All calls are connected to a mental health professional who will provide immediate support and connections to resources. Walk-in crisis services are also available. Call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255.
- School Based Health Centers are clinics that offer health services, mental health and other counseling to students in a number of school districts in Colorado.
- The Colorado Suicide Helpline lists contact information for those having or knowing someone having suicidal thoughts.
- Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
- Text telephone (TTY) 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889)
- For Español: Llama o envia un mensaje de texto 1-800-784-8255, presiona 2
- The Teacher-Educator Well-being Support Line at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center provides free, confidential crisis counseling for all educators and school employees throughout Colorado. A trained Crisis Counselor volunteer will listen and support 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., 7 days a week via telephone or text. Call 303-724-2500.
- Frontline Help offers free coaching sessions for frontline workers including educators who are dealing with COVID-19. Appointments are booked through the website.
- The Colorado Department of Public Health, Coping with COVID-19, provides information on social connection, as well as practical ideas for reducing fear and stress.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Mental Health in the Workplace, lists practical ways to promote health and wellness in the work setting
Supports for Specific Student Groups
Specific Populations: Wellbeing and Connectedness
In addition to the recommendations and resources listed above that are inclusive of every student, the following resources are specific to students at particular risk of feeling disconnected. Students with disabilities or exceptional learning needs, students learning English (EL), students who are without homes or who are in foster care, students who migrate and others.
While the Colorado Department of Education does not endorse the external resources linked on this page, links are provided to help school and district leaders identify and evaluate resources.
Jump to a Section:
Students with disabilities may experience difficulties with establishing and maintaining relationships with teachers and peers. They may be disproportionately affected by the effects of the pandemic. Educators need to emphasize and assure accessibility to instruction and socialization.
- CDE - COVID-19 and Special Education
- CDE - Serious Emotional Disability/Social Emotional Learning/Affective Needs Resources
- CDE – The Exceptional Student Services Unit offers numerous resources for students with:
- Serving Students with Disabilities during the COVID-19 Crisis
- Supporting Students with Disabilities at School and Home
English Learners (ELs), immigrant students, and students who are migrating may experience equity gaps due to language and income.
- CDE – Resources for English Learners
- Coping with Stress is a special addition to Staying Healthy: An English Learner’s Guide to Health Care and Healthy Living
Without proper support and targeted interventions, gifted learners are at risk of underachievement, disillusionment, and disengagement.
- CDE - The Office of Gifted Education offers resources for students who are gifted or twice-exceptional.
- Is Executive Functioning the Missing Link for Gifted Students?
- Myths About Gifted Students
- NAGC COVID-19 and Anxiety in Gifted Children
- Social and Emotional Issues/Gifted Children
Children experiencing homelessness and those in foster care may have a difficult time with social skills due to lack of experience, personal trauma, or other factors. They may be reluctant to form relationships with peers and teachers.
- CDE - McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program
- CDE - Student Engagement, Mobility, Dropout Prevention, and Transitions
- CDE - Supporting Students in Foster Care
- Child Welfare Network provides resources focused on wellbeing for children in foster care, and children and families in the Child Welfare system
Resources to Support Wellbeing and Connectedness
The external resources below are not endorsed by the Colorado Department of Education. They are included here to help district and school leaders identify and evaluate options for supporting student and staff wellbeing and connectedness.
- Adolescent Connectedness
- Fostering School Connectedness from the CDC describes strategies and actions school administrators, teachers, and school staff can take to increase school connectedness.
- How a Diverse School District Is Using a Strategy Usually Reserved for ‘Gifted’ Students to Help Everyone Overcome COVID Learning Loss
- How ‘Empathy Interviews’ Help Us Cope with COVID
- School Connectedness from the CDC provides links for several fact sheets.
- COVID-19 Resources for Schools, Students, and Families
- Ten Positive Behavior Support Strategies to Support Families at Home
School and District Policy
- Online Learning for Students with Disabilities: Considerations for LEA Policies, Practices, and Procedures (PDF)
- Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students' Needs (PDF)
Students Who are English Learners
- Providing Services to English Learners during the COVID-19 Outbreak
- Distance Learning: Challenges Providing Services to K-12 English Learners and Students with Disabilities during COVID-19
Students Who are Gifted and Talented or Twice-Exceptional
Students with Disabilities
- Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities
- COVID-19 and Special Education: Colorado Department of Education
- Distance Learning: Challenges Providing Services to K-12 English Learners and Students with Disabilities during COVID-19
- Evidence-based practices for Students with Severe Disabilities
- School Leadership for Students with Disabilities
- CDE - Wellbeing and Connection During COVID-19
- How Teenagers Can Protect Their Mental Health During COVID-19 gives adolescents strategies for dealing with emotions and making connections.
- Parenting in a Pandemic offers tips to "keep the calm at home."
- Social, Emotional, and Cultural Anchor Competencies from the Center for Reaching and Teaching the Whole Child (CRTWC)
- The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) provides ideas about Helping Children Cope with Changes Resulting from Covid-19
Please refer to the following:
CDE staff provide resources, tools, and training on a variety of wellbeing and connectedness topics. Information is accessible in several ways including on the CDE website, during telephone/video office hours, and through email/phone conversations.
Funding and Policy
Implementing new instructional supports and routines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic may pose challenges with budgets and existing policies. The influx of federal education relief funding can provide districts and schools with necessary resources to respond to and recover from the effects of the pandemic on learning and wellbeing of staff and students. District and school leaders will continue to need to consider and adjust local policies, protocols, or practices in response to the pandemic for the 2021-22 school year and beyond based on local needs.
The purpose of this section of the toolkit is to provide district and school leaders with information on available funding and policy considerations to support local response efforts.
A number of new and existing funds are available to support implementation which are summarized in a Funding Matrix Quick Reference Table. A summary of the Funds Matrix Quick Reference Table is provided below.
These federal education relief funds (CARES ESSER I, CRSSA ESSER II, and ARP ESSER III Acts) provide a significant source of funding for school districts. Colorado has been allocated nearly two billion dollars in ESSER Funds from the three stimulus packages from the federal government. At least 90% of funding will go to LEAs based on Title I shares.
LEAs may use funds for implementation activities that are a part of the LEA’s response to, preparation for, or prevention of the spread of COVID-19, are reasonable, and one of the following allowable activities:
- Any activity authorized under ESEA, IDEA, Perkins, or McKinney-Vento (only ESSER I and II), and the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act
- Other activities to help with the response to COVID-19, including preparedness and response efforts, sanitation, professional development pertaining to responding to COVID-19, remote learning, addressing the impact of COVID-19 on learning, and others.
Applications for funds can be found in the following links:
- CARES ESSER I Application: Applications were due on December 20, 2020 and are now open for revisions through the Post Award Revision Process, until June 30, 2021.
- CRSSA ESSER II Application: Application is open until September 30, 2021 and applications are reviewed as they are received by CDE.
- ARP ESSER III Application: Application is now open! Acceptance and Transmittal Forms, Assurances, a GEPA Statement must be submitted by May 23, 2021 to receive award. LEAs will have 90-days thereafter to develop plans for the use of funds.
- Due Dates and Timelines for ESSER Funds (I, II, and III)
- Chiefs for Change created a ESSER workbook to help districts streamline the planning of their ESSER funds. The workbook may be found here: Chiefs for Change ESSER Planning Workbook v1.0 - Google Sheets.
- To make a copy for district use, a district can access that option here: Chiefs for Change ESSER Planning Workbook v1.0 - Make a copy (google.com)
Approximately $150 million dollars in federal funds are allocated to districts each year to improve academic outcomes for all students and close achievement gaps.
- Title I, Part A funds can be used to supplement the implementation activities provided to students in Title I schoolwide programs or eligible students in Title I targeted assistance programs.
- Title I, Part C can be used to supplement the implementation activities provided to migrant students.
- Title I, Part D can be used to supplement the implementation activities provided to students in Delinquent or Neglect Facilities.
- Title II, Part A can be used to provide training and professional development for educators implementing activities from the Learning Toolkit.
- Title III, Part A can be used to provide activities that supplement English language development (ELD) programs, engage families of ELs, provide professional learning for educators to meet the academic needs of ELs, and provide additional supports and opportunities for EL students.
- Title III, Immigrant Set-Aside can be used to supplement the implementation activities to support immigrant students.
- Title IV, Part A can be used to support implementation activities that provide all students with access to a well-rounded education, improve school conditions for student learning, and improve the use of technology.
- Title V can be used by rural and small districts to support any activities authorized under the ESEA
Other Funding Sources
- Gifted and Talented funds can be used for implementation of specific activities to support Gifted and Talented students.
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds can be used for implementation of specific activities to support students with disabilities required by the students’ Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
- English Language Proficiency Act (ELPA) funds must be used to provide or enhance ELD programs, provide academic and linguistic support to ELs, and provide support to educators instructing ELs.
- READ Act funds can be used for implementation of specific reading activities in support of K-3 students and students with a Significant Reading Deficiency (SRD).
Resources to Support Decision Making
- Leveraging Funds for Student Success Guidance
- CARES Act Overview page with each funding stream and FAQ linked
- This site provides a continuum of the CARES Act Education funding including information on Nutrition funding, ESSERF Fund, and GEER with an additional link to FAQ.
- CARES Act Expenditure Types vs Funding Sources
- This contains comprehensive guidance as well as FAQs about allowable expenditure types with topics ranging from technology to professional development.
- Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund
- The GEER fund provides $44 million for P-12 and higher education in Colorado. On June 4th the Governor announced his plans for the funds.
As COVID-19 continues to affect all areas of education in Colorado, CDE is shifting policies and requirements and providing resources to guide districts, schools, parents and others. This page will continue to be updated with the most current guidance on the topics below. Additional areas will be added as guidance is needed.
COVID-19 Policy Guidance webpage includes current policy and guidance for many areas.
Here are some contacts at the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) that may be helpful to you as you are looking at your response plans in light of the evolving coronavirus 2019 / COVID-19 situation:
Melissa Colsman, Ph.D.
Associate Commissioner of the Student Learning Division
Still have questions?
For other questions, please reach out to the CDE Communications Division at email@example.com.
Financial information on schools and districts throughout Colorado. Learn more about financial transparency.