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Framing the COVID-19 Response as an Opportunity

As the hope for normalcy begins to emerge in educators and students, there is time for reflection. Many districts struggled a year ago as they went to move fully online. The struggle was hard to watch for districts and providers that had been doing this work for decades.

There will no doubt be many reports and data points on how COVID-19 impacted students, and what that means for the future workforce and economy in America. There’s also something to be said about the fact that this could happen again. Districts have now received billions of dollars (Around $197.4 billion to be exact) on implementing technologies, services, and curriculum that allow students to learn anytime, anywhere -- it is of the utmost importance that districts use this funding and flexibility as an opportunity.

Threat Rigidity

In a recent survey done by the Clayton Christensen Institute, “schools have sought to replicate the traditional classroom in a new format—a striking 42% of teachers, for example, reported in a nationwide survey by the Clayton Christensen Institute that they replicate their typical day in a remote format.” Experts in the field of online learning, have written reports and best practices on online learning for decades; however, very little of that research appeared to be used when moving to online learning during the lockdown of COVID-19.

Instead of taking the opportunity to innovate and adapt, schools have instead had an increased focus on operations and logistics. According to Clark Gilbert, now the president of BYU Pathway Worldwide, there is an idea of “Threat Rigidity”. Threat Rigidity is defined as “people stop being flexible and move to a “command and control” response. This means that when an educator moves to a full-time online learning model, the immediate response is to dig in harder to what has always been done.

Opportunity in the Chaos

According to Michael Horn, “framing the pandemic as a threat has been important to marshal resources, but leaving it in that threat framing creates an inflexible response that is more bound to traditional processes and priorities rather than imagining what could be.” Instead, educators must frame the response to COVID-19 as an opportunity.

There is no doubt that COVID-19 caused the largest chaos and upheaval in student lives that they have likely ever experienced. However, this doesn’t mean that learning should look the same when students return to the classroom. It is a critical time to find partners that will allow students to learn in the best avenue of learning for them. It is also a critical time for districts to re-evaluate their partners and providers. The chaos should teach us lessons, and help us move forward. Innovative district leaders are now seeking providers who provided consistent services while everything else was disrupted.

Look for the Least Impacted Students

Prior to COVID-19, there were what were called “pockets of innovation”; these were districts that were already adapting to the idea that learning must look different from the previous 100 years. These districts were trying new learning models, embracing the flexibility that technology provided, and were allowing students to learn in environments that were conducive to their preferred ways of learning.

For these districts and providers, the shift was fairly seamless, for others it was the hardest year of their lives- not only with the trauma of the virus, but learning how to teach in new ways. It is critical to think about what learning models should look like going forward, and the students who were least impacted by the only constant, which was change.

Edovate has been offering innovative learning programs for many years. These programs were built with flexibility and technology and have been being used for over 20 years. If you are interested in learning more, contact an Edovate school success associate at 484-229-8890 or email at

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