Schools around the world were forced to transition from in-person learning to remote learning. It’s been a difficult process– quite a chaotic one to say the least. Educators have quickly used technology to aid their students continued learning. 

There has been a reinvention of the wheel – or at least that is what educators see it as with this new use of technology and e-learning. It’s important to note that home-based learning is not reinventing the wheel, it’s rather re-distributing your teachings in different ways. There is no shortage of online resources and activities that can aid teachers and students. The issues are around the delivery of instruction, specifically: 

  • What is being taught?
  • How is content being taught?
  • How do you engage students effectively while they are at home?
  • How must learning goals change and improve? 
  • What lessons are crucial to learning before students progress? 

Creating a planning process and environment will be critical to a school’s success in the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year. What educators do today will impact how we plan for the learning of tomorrow. 

With only 3 months to go until the new school year, the short time span needs to be utilized effectively. In this blog, we will review 6 scenarios that schools are considering when going back to school. We will present the options from an objective perspective, it’s up to you as a leader to review what works best for your school. There will also be a big focus on planning practices and planning for success. 

Let’s get started. 

Scenario #1 – Remedial Learning for Students 

Remedial learning may be a scenario to consider for students who are behind on particular subject areas or need to repeat the entire grade level. As we faced a bump in the road, students suffered in areas of their education, and personal lives. From seeing their friends and teachers every day in a safe space, students’ growth stunted. It’s certainly a challenging time to make sure every student in your school is receiving the support they need. The sad truth is that not every student will be ready to move on to the next grade. It’s up to teachers and administrators to identify the needs of the students and understand where individual students are in their progress. 

If students are repeating the year, this scenario needs to be combined with other possible scenarios in order to deliver proper instruction. 

Some questions to consider when facing Scenario 1 include:

  • What does every student need to do if they repeat the grade? 
  • Where are the gaps in knowledge for these students? What skills do they need to develop? 
  • How will we handle the parents in regards to this? 
  • How will we ensure that students are supported in their success? 
  • How will this impact our school’s ratings? 
  • Does every student repeat their intended grades or is it based on skill mastery? How will we determine if this is viable? Will there be external assessments created to showcase the value of repeating a grade/subject? 
  • What subjects/skills are students missing? 
  • What support do teachers need when it comes to planning? 
  • Will technology help aid the students? 

Teachers: 

If you have the ability to collect all the work your students did in the last year, understand where they are missing critical skills, what their scores were on assessments, and overall subject-based performance. Creating a structure to evaluate each individual student will be recommended. 

Administrators: 

You also need to plan accordingly, if students are repeating the school year, they need to be equipped with new resources and activities that assist their learning. Ideally, you should create a task force or dedicated team to help plan and cover the important parts of this scenario. 

Scenario #2 – Full Remote Learning

Schools have been using different technologies to aid their students and teachers to create an e-learning environment. From using Zoom for video conferencing to using their Google Classroom to circulate important information, there are a lot of tools that can be used. Here are 8 tools we recommend. 

Your E-Learning plan is going to be similar to your strategic plan. It will identify the following: 

  • Teaching Strategies 
  • Communication Rules 
  • Expectations for Guardians, Teachers, and Students 
  • Devices Used 
  • Technologies Used and Purpose Defined 
  • Policies for Online Learning 
  • Planning Rules 
  • Consistent Team Meeting Dates Identified 
  • Consistent Instructional Timetable Identified 

Make sure the plan is clear for learners, teachers, and guardians as to how learning and teaching happens online. You can design this plan with a great amount of detail, but keeping it simple will help create proper guidance for your school. 

Two Types of Online Learning/Teaching 

There are two kinds of online learning and teaching that schools will need to balance based on their circumstances: synchronous (happening collaboratively and at the same time with a group of online learners and usually a teacher) and asynchronous (happening at any time, not necessarily in a group, but with teacher feedback). Synchronous teaching is not always required or desired by students to create an effective learning environment. The goal of teaching online is not to recreate face-to-face classrooms, it’s about providing different learning experiences. Online education helps learners to work more independently, expand their agency, and learn to use tools and strategies that they otherwise might not have. 

Teachers: 

If you have the ability to try new techniques to engage students, that will be beneficial for their learning and mastery of skills. It may seem overwhelming and difficult at first, but it’s going to yield rewards at the end. 

Administrators: 

Planning for the right technology and implementation will be crucial in this scenario. It’s about constant communication and transparency. Having resources that aid teachers in their teaching and students in their learning is crucial for next school year. Ideally, you should create a task force or dedicated team to help plan and cover the important parts of this scenario.

Scenario #3 Distant Classrooms or Split Classrooms 

Many schools have no other option than to be physical. Due to a lack of devices and/or connectivity to students, educators are having difficulty connecting with students online. Most schools have ended their year and stopped keeping track of assessments since March. It’s not easy. But the best way to get ahead of this situation is to plan ahead. 

You might also have to consider adding a day or extending learning days from 5 to 6 days. So Saturday might be an additional learning day to make sure that you cover the important concepts.

If you are going to plan for split classrooms, you’ll have to consider the following: 

  • What do alternate days look like? Who will come and when? 
  • What will the situation look like for students at home or not at school one of the days?
  • How will the design of the classroom look?
  • Will teachers alternate classes? 
  • What is important for parents and students to know? 
  • How will the teachers teach alternatively? 
  • What is the most important information to cover on days students are in class? 

CDC also released this helpful decision-making infographic for schools that are looking to re-open. See if you meet the criteria below:

Teachers: 

Creating a well thought out structure with your colleagues will be an important part to this step. Being able to align what is important to teach, when, and how will yield dividend results.

Administrators: 

You also need to plan accordingly, if half the students are coming every day, what is important for their wellbeing? Assigning distant lockers? Creating a well-designed space for lunch and recess? Ideally, you should work with the teachers to create an action plan as they will be executing. 

Scenario #4 – Delayed School Year Or Starting Earlier 

Delaying the school year means you are waiting for the vaccine or better measures to be in place. You might also consider starting the school year earlier, if let’s say a second wave approaches and schools need to close again. While we can’t always predict the future, we can focus on the students who are progressing to the next grade level. They will need help to catch up on skills that they did not learn or do not remember. 

It’s going to be tough for teachers to cover the skills that students need. Due to the lack of alignment in what was covered in the previous years, teachers in ascending years will struggle to cover relevant topics. Creating a plan to cover vertical and horizontal alignment will be the way to go about creating transparency between teachers. Your first steps to alignment, will help start framing the conversation you need to have with your team. 

This scenario needs to be combined with another scenario that works best for your school. Be transparent in regards to what the expectations will be for students, parents, and faculty. Parents will have many questions around your plans and curriculum, it’s important to be transparent on your decision.

If you are going to plan for this scenario: 

  • Where are the gaps in knowledge for these students? What skills do they need to develop? 
  • How can parents aid students learning/growth? [If possible]
  • How will we ensure that students are supported in their success? 
  • There might be some students who are really behind versus their classmates, what support might they need? 
  • What support do teachers need when it comes to planning? 
  • Will technology help aid the students? What resources will aid student progress and success? 
  • What should the timeline for starting our school be? Will our budget permit these timelines? 

Teachers: 

You will be lost and confused the first month in regard to your student’s mastery of particular skill sets. Diagnostic and formative assessments can come in handy here to quickly gauge a student’s understanding. Make time to meet the students half-way and be patient with their progress. 

Administrators: 

Teachers will need assistance in this area specifically around student’s knowledge gaps. Creating a PLC that continuously discusses what was taught and missed in grade-levels will be the best way to support teachers. They might also require specific support and that’s for you to inquire about and assist your faculty with. 

Scenario #5 –  Summer Session 

Whether you do summer classes this summer or next summer – it means more time and effort will be spent catching up students. This might not be possible for graduating classes, but for future graduating classes in 2021, this might be a requirement. Summer programs often are curated to condense information for students to digest easily. Knowing there is a lot of information, it will be important to keep to a schedule and scoping sequence. 

If you’re looking to provide a summer session, here are the questions that you need to ask yourselves: 

  • Where are the gaps in knowledge for these students? What skills do they need to develop? 
  • What does every student need to master to graduate from summer school? 
  • Will summer school provide credits? 
  • Will summer school be a continuation of students’ missed? 
  • How will we handle the parents in regards to this? 
  • How will we ensure that students are supported in their success? 
  • What support do teachers need when it comes to planning? 
  • What aids will the students and teachers require? 
  • What will the summer school schedule look like? 
  • Will students be engaged during their vacation? Will teachers be able to teach during their vacation time? What will be some incentives to continue summer learning? 
  • Is there a budget for my teachers and students that permits these summer sessions? 

Teachers: 

Summer school means more hours, but it’s important to align yourself with a teacher support group to help you. Creating a structure around what the summer program will cover will be important. Some teachers have considered only teaching broad concepts and giving examples as homework. Consider what may work best for you. 

Administrators: 

Create a budget for summer learning. Plan for student safety and teacher support. Creating an environment where learning will be fun during the summer will be important. No one wants to work and study during vacation, acknowledging the value that can be brought from working during these times needs to be communicated. 

Scenario #6 – Hybrid and Blended Learning Environment  

Schools might decide to bring in some students on a daily basis based on their learning style and capabilities and conduct live recording sessions with other students online. This is a blended learning approach that can be tested to see how this could help students.

If you’re looking at this scenario,  here are the questions that you need to ask yourselves: 

  • What technologies do we need to add to our library of resources? 
  • Where are the gaps in knowledge for these students? What skills do they need to develop? 
  • How will we divide the schedule for kids to learn both physically and online? 
  • How will we measure students’ engagement with blended learning? 
  • How do we communicate our plan externally? 
  • How will we ensure that students are supported in their success? How can we engage in student learning online? How can we engage them in the classroom?
    • Will we use Games? Virtual Reality? Blogging? Videos? [Refer back to the Full Remote Learning Model]
  • How will teachers track what they taught students? 
  • What support do teachers need when it comes to planning? 

Teachers: 

If you have the ability to try new techniques to engage students, that will be beneficial for their learning and mastery of skills. It may seem overwhelming and difficult at first, but it’s going to yield rewards at the end. 

Administrators: 

Planning for the right resources will be crucial in this scenario. Being equipped with new resources and activities that assist students in their learning. Ideally, you should create a task force or dedicated team to help plan and cover the important parts of this scenario.


These are 6 scenarios that schools are considering. Some of the scenarios can and should be combined to create the best alternative for your school. This is our way of sharing some ideas that schools we work with are considering. Beyond looking at the possible outlook of next year, it’s important to plan to meet the needs of students, teachers, and your school.


Here are areas to consider when you start planning for the next school year: 

School Services 

  • Special Ed Services 
  • Technological Resource Distribution 
  • Running Extra Bus Services and Routes 
  • Professional Development for Teachers 
  • No Recess or Limited Recess Time 

Health And Safety 

Curriculum (Unit) and Lesson Planning 

Budget Planning 

  • Cost Cutting Measures 
  • Teacher Turnover 
  • Enrollment Dropout 
  • Increasing Enrollment Initiatives 
  • Increasing Security and Health Officers 

If you can devise a plan that works for your institution, no matter what happens, you’ll be ready to take on the challenge. It’s our collective responsibility to drive education, and continue to teach the leaders of tomorrow. Thank you for the resilience and compassion you have shown during these last few months, we know it hasn’t been easy but you’re doing the best you can! 


While Chalk can’t help with all your planning, we can help you with your curriculum (unit) planning and lesson planning needs. For more information on how we help schools, learn more here.

If you’d like direct contact with a Chalk expert, book them here.