reopening schools means moving away from empty auditorium benches chairs class

Reopening Schools is EdTech Time to Shine

Reopening schools in the Fall of 2020 was a major topic this week. Kicking off a lot of the discussion was the White House’s National Dialogue Safely Reopening America’s Schools. At the forefront was the CDC and their guidelines. Among the many COVID-19 related publications, below are a few, related to K-12 schools, including date of latest revision:

I’m of the opinion that no one is arguing against reopening schools. However, a majority of concern surrounds uncertainty with respect to the details of reopening in a safe manner. Looking to local governments to interpret the CDC guidelines and customize them for their individual situations is consistent with the messaging throughout the COVID-19 response. For that reason, we are most likely looking at a hybrid reopening strategy.

Schools are Reassessing e-learning, EdTech Should be Too

A friend of mine, in the education space, welcomed in July with a reminder that most free trials of EdTech software expired June 30th. This impacts almost every school districts. As a result, many have dedicated the end of the school year and early part of the summer to identifying the short falls of e-learning. I hope that EdTech is doing the same. No doubt there were many lessons learned not only by the educators, parents, and students. The 100 days of summer should be more than enough time for EdTech companies, new and existing, to address the needs and improve in time for back to school fall 2020.

Here in NY, the Governor has targeted the first week of August to make a decision on reopening NY Schools. Whether the decision is to delay openings past September or a part time schedule with e-learning, this is an opportunity. Not only for corporations and philanthropic organizations to subsidize the identified necessities:

  • devices
  • internet access
  • education software, student facing and on teacher/administrative side

Whatever the decision is, even full time on day 1, certain things need to happen for success. It is important that all stakeholders are on the same page regarding funding, communication, and the proposed plan. EdTech’s role is essential in those discussions.

Stay healthy and keep streaming!

Exposure Notification 🔔Moving 💃us 👫 #NYForward

Exposure notification; trace, contact, isolate; is a major component of re-opening America. On April 10th Apple and Google announced they would be working together on APIs in the fight against COVID-19 spread. The two leading smartphone OS manufacturers would combine to accelerate the use of smartphones in contact tracing. This week, Switzerland launched the first app based on this technology. The key feature uses Bluetooth to measure proximity and duration between smartphones. At a later date if either party test positive, the other(s) receive notification.

A common refrain during #NYSonPAUSE is the use of 100 year old techniques at fighting pandemics: social distancing. This exposure notification marks the first significant technological advance during this crisis. Of course, it is not without its detractors. The new refrain is that the government, or worse, advertisers, will now use this to secretly track us.

Many safeguards made their way into the APIs, in some cases reducing their effectiveness. For example, the non-negotiable feature was that the exposure metrics could not be stored in a centralized database. The BBC article, link above, clearly depicts how centralization impacts app usage.

Contact tracing is a cornerstone of #NYForward. Once communities are able to notify the exposure to the virus at a mass scale, smart medical practices can be put into place. Namely, isolate contagious individuals and prevent outbreaks. New Rochelle used this containment zone strategy, with the jury still being out on its success.

I’m looking forward to the public health solutions that will be launching soon.  Both types, ones using this set of APIs and those based on competing innovations.  Let’s bring the fight against the spread into this century.

Stay healthy and keep streaming!