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#EngageEquitably Helps Education Leaders Communicate Effectively During an Uncertain School Year

#EngageEquitably Helps Education Leaders Communicate Effectively During an Uncertain School Year

New resource offers guidance and templates for a variety of scenarios and issues school leaders may need to address during the COVID-19 pandemic

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Sept. 18, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- A new series of equity-focused resources and guidance from Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools (LAB) and national school communications firm the Donovan Group will help school and district leaders across the country communicate more effectively with their stakeholders about the COVID-19 pandemic and related issues.

#EngageEquitably includes templates for emails to families and staff, website language, phone and robocall scripts, video scripts and news releases. They address COVID-19 situations, such as positive cases, health and prevention efforts, schedule changes, shifts in schools' instructional models, extracurricular activities and school meals. This builds on the EquityByDesign initiative's broader work to promote a healthy, safe, and equitable school year.

"In a public health crisis, communication must be clear, transparent, honest and, most importantly, equitable. Schools need to reach and support the full range of stakeholders in their communities," said Eric Tucker, executive director of Brooklyn LAB. "We hope this free resource will help foster equitable communication with families and students, including those with more intensive and specialized needs for whom this pandemic has been especially difficult."

This work is aligned to and informed by the recommendations of the Parabola Project, a cross-sector health-education partnership between Ariadne Labs and The Learning Accelerator.

"Parents, guardians, and other stakeholders too often receive conflicting and confusing information about the pandemic, decision-making around closure and reopening and the reasoning behind the message," said Beth Rabbitt, chief executive officer of The Learning Accelerator (TLA) and co-founder of the Parabola Project. "Schools must establish strong, consistent public health-informed communications processes. This toolkit offers important starting points for leaders across the country."

Partners of the Educating All Learners Alliance (EALA) contributed to this effort, including the National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools, Digital Promise' Learner Variability Project and InnovateEDU.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the most complicated school year of our lifetimes," said Joe Donovan, President of the Donovan Group. "We hope this resource helps education leaders as they work to communicate about challenging issues throughout this school year and beyond."

Each communications resource is tailor-made to different audiences and focused on specific situations, such as closing a classroom or section of a school and moving from a virtual to in-person learning model. It also includes examples of communications that address students with special learning needs. Although remote learning has been stressful for many families and students, it has been particularly difficult for students with disabilities who have Individual Education Plans (IEPs) or 504 Plans.

As the school year progresses, the partners will continue to add to these templates and resources.

"This school year is defined by transitions, especially among virtual, hybrid and fully in-person models," said Lindsay E. Jones, president and CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. "Families of students with learning and attention issues and their students often feel the challenges associated with COVID-19 resurgence acutely. School leaders must make decisions and communicate in a manner that best addresses the needs of students with disabilities and their families."

Lack of communication, delayed communication, and unclear or contradictory messages can create stress and more challenges during a health crisis. The #EngageEquitably resource can give schools a head start when new events unfold.

"Schools and districts must engage in clear and proactive communication as their families, students and staff deal with the many stresses and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Erin Mote, Founding Partner of the Educating All Learners Alliance (EALA). "Clear, responsive communication is an integral way to cultivate the kind of trust, inclusion and equity we need during this public health crisis."

The resources are intended to guide the communication efforts of schools and districts. The specific strategies and messages they use will depend on factors like their reopening plans, guidance they receive from public health officials and the status of COVID-19 in their schools and community.

To access the free resources, guidance and templates available through #EngageEquitably, visit https://www.EngageEquitably.org.

Brooklyn LAB: Brooklyn LAB was co-founded in 2013 by Erin Mote and Eric Tucker with the mission to eliminate the achievement gap by preparing scholars with the academic foundation, digital literacy, and leadership skills necessary to succeed in college and professional life. Brooklyn LAB is dedicated to serving the highest need students, regardless of their academic level, English language proficiency, or disability. Meeting the needs of these students has continued to be our focus as we reimagine what the return to school will look like in the fall of 2020.

Donovan Group: The Donovan Group is a full service communications firm that assists school districts and educational organizations. It serves clients throughout the United States. Its services include crisis communications management, communications planning, content development, graphic design, media training, referendum assistance, surveys, and communications consulting.

EALA: The Educating All Learners Alliance (EALA) is an uncommon coalition of organizations committed to resource sharing and community-building that supports the efforts of the education community to meet the needs of students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parabola Project: The Parabola Project is a joint project of Ariadne Labs and The Learning Accelerator. Ariadne Labs is a joint center for health systems innovation at Brigham & Women's Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The Learning Accelerator is a national nonprofit that is working to make the 'potential' possible and practical for every teacher and learner.

Digital Promise: Digital Promise works at the intersection of education leaders, researchers, and technology developers to improve learning opportunities for all and close the Digital Learning Gap. Because when all learners have equitable access to technology, when everyone participates, and when everyone learns, we all benefit from a more engaged, informed and just society.

NCLD: The mission of the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) is to improve the lives of the one in five children and adults nationwide with learning and attention issues—by empowering parents and young adults, transforming schools and advocating for equal rights and opportunities. We're working to create a society in which every individual possesses the academic, social and emotional skills needed to succeed in school, at work and in life.

NCSECS: The National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools (the Center) is an independent, non-profit organization formed in 2013. The Center is committed to ensuring that students with disabilities have equal access to charter schools and to fostering effective implementation of practices that will benefit students with disabilities in both charter and traditional public schools by proactively working with states, authorizers, charter school and special education advocates, as well as other stakeholders.

InnovateEDU: InnovateEDU is a non-profit whose mission is to eliminate the achievement gap by accelerating innovation in standards aligned, next generation learning models and tools that serve, inform, and enhance teaching and learning.

Please direct inquiries to:

Sarah Pactor, 929-265-2141



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SOURCE Equity by Design

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