Giving Compass' Take:

• Principles and teachers in Chicago are working hard to rebuild student-teacher relationships through remote learning during the pandemic.

• How can donors address some issues such as the digital divide or edtech access? 

• Read more about equity in education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Allison Tingwall bangs on the door of a Chicago Lawn house, curtains drawn on all windows. Her face cloaked by a black mask, the Curie Metropolitan High School principal steps back and waits.

Most of Curie’s 2,800 students have at least emailed a teacher since the pandemic shuttered the school and shifted learning online a month earlier, but about 110 seem to have vanished. Now, Tingwall and her assistant principals have deployed to track them down.

For the school, in the predominantly Latino immigrant neighborhood of Archer Heights on Chicago’s Southwest Side, a lot rides on a bid to reel in its scattered students. Six years ago, Curie accounted for 10% of school arrests in the city. By last September, the school had become a fledgling success story, with fights and arrests dramatically down, and the on-time graduation rate up; Tingwall saw a surge of “Condor pride” among students.

But with its educators scrambling to get the hang of teaching remotely, could Curie hold on to those fragile gains?

Chicago, like school districts around the country, pushed hard to get computers to students who needed them. But Tingwall and her staff of 280 quickly realized that this spring’s steeper challenge was to sustain the vital bonds between teachers and students — relationships tested in a city hard hit by the pandemic, with the racial and income fault lines it exposed.

Especially in economically stressed communities, it is often these personal relationships that propel learning, leading students not only to log on, but to stay fully plugged in. If Curie failed to sustain these ties, some of its students — 90% of whom live in poverty — might never come back.

Read the full article about rebuilding schools and learning during the pandemic by Mila Koumpilova at Chalkbeat.