05 SES 15 A, Preventing and Reducing Educational Risks during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic is transforming society in profound ways. In all sectors, governments introduce measures to try to reduce the spread of the virus. Also schools need to take measures to reduce contact amongst pupils. Measures implemented range from keeping distance between students, downsizing groups of students in classrooms, introducing face masks and even replacing face-to-face education with distance education where students learn from home. However, research shows that the abrupt transformation from face-to-face to distance education was not without consequences. Research has shown that the COVID-19 school closures resulted in learning losses for students (De Witte & Maldonado, 2020; Engzell, Frey, & Verhagen, 2020), with even higher losses for children from less-educated homes. This raises the concern that the COVID-19 pandemic increases educational inequalities.
In this symposium, we will address the question how schools can prevent and reduce educational risks during the COVID-19 pandemic. We highlight varying practices in how schools aim to meet students’ educational needs during COVID-19. Moreover, we discuss which underlying structures, processes and initiatives are successful in preventing and reducing educational risks.
The symposium comprises four papers from the University of Oxford (United Kingdom), Ghent University (Belgium), University of Amsterdam and Radboud University (the Netherlands), and Thomas More University of Applied Sciences (Belgium). The first paper dives deeper into why some schools are well able to successfully stem learning loss among students during COVID-19 while others are not. In identifying success factors, the paper focuses on organizational measures, such as the digital infrastructure of the school, that were in place before the pandemic, and the forms and extent of remote instruction that occurred during the pandemic. The second and third paper focus on the role of parents in online-distance education to reduce learning risks. More specific, the second paper addresses how teachers’ expectations of parents and parents’ capital influence educational inequalities in distance education from a sociological perspective. The third paper investigates how secondary education schools pay attention to students who are at risk of running into educational disadvantage during school closures due to COVID-19. The focus is on how schools shape partnerships with parents to reduce or prevent learning risks among disadvantaged students. Additionally, the fourth paper concerns an evaluation study on governmentally subsidized COVID-19 summer schools which aim to better prepare students to start the next school year. The paper focuses on the characteristics and preconditions of the summer schools and gained insight in their effectiveness on reducing learning losses among students.
By addressing the question ‘how can schools prevent and reduce educational risks during the COVID-19 pandemic?’ from different perspectives (e.g., organization of remote education, parental involvement, additional summer schools) and with rich methodologies (e.g., student test scores, questionnaires, interviews, observations), we aim to highlight and discuss good practices to reduce or prevent learning losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The symposium generates insight into how we can deal with the challenges of the pandemic, and also broader with regard to good school practices in combating educational inequalities.
De Witte, K., & Maldonado, J. E. (2020). De effecten van de COVID-19 crisis en het sluiten van scholen op leerlingprestaties en onderwijsongelijkheid. Leuvense Economische Standpunten (Short)(181). Engzell, P., Frey, A., & Verhagen, M. (2020). Learning inequality during the COVID-19 pandemic: Center for Open Science.
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