As districts across the United States consider how to get student learning back on track and fortify parent interest in public schools, they’re asking the same question as Steve Joel: What should we keep after the pandemic?

This story also appeared in The Christian Science Monitor
The superintendent in Lincoln, Nebraska, says a district survey this past fall found that 10% of parents liked remote learning – pandemic or not. Nationally, nearly a third of parents say they are likely to choose virtual instruction indefinitely for their children, according to a February NPR/Ipsos poll.

While the end of the pandemic is likely still months off, the White House has called for most K-8 schools to reopen by May, with in-person instruction at least one day a week, prolonging the possibility of distance learning.

Though virtual challenges remain – like teacher burnout and learning loss – some districts are pinpointing remote practices worth keeping. Sifting out solutions from the struggle may help solve chronic problems of quality and equity, say education experts.

“After a moment of disruption – of major disruption – the conditions are ripe for accelerating innovation,” says Richard Culatta, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education. “We are in that moment now in education.”

Hints of a remote learning legacy are emerging. The digital pivot made some districts solve preexisting tech gaps. Educators explored new social-emotional supports with heightened attention to mental health. And parents have transformed into stronger collaborators in their children’s learning.

Leveraging such changes long term could be a matter of public school survival. Dr. Joel says his district, where a majority of K-12 learners are in person, is experiencing its first school-year enrollment decline in two decades.

Read the full article about remote learning legacy by Sarah Matusek at The Hechinger Report.