Equity Focus

High-quality education helps ensure that all children in the nation reach their full potential and succeed. While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone, impacts and challenges may be experienced differently across and within different communities.

“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hit the reset button. With the American Rescue Plan, States and districts have access to resources and funding to not only reopen our schools for in-person instruction, but to address gaps that existed before and were made worse by the pandemic. Let’s fix what wasn’t working before, and finally build an education system that works for all students — especially those furthest from opportunity.”
Dr. Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education

As the nation’s PreK-12 schools, early childhood programs, colleges and universities, and institutions of postsecondary education continue to reopen, a distinct focus on expanding equity in education must be top of mind. Communities have responded to the pandemic in innovative ways to ensure that students, young children, and families continue to have access to the tools they need to succeed, regardless of location or circumstance. Whether addressing connectivity needs, providing necessities, collaborating with community stakeholders, or supporting students and young children from a wide variety of backgrounds, providers from early childhood education to higher education have worked diligently throughout the pandemic to ensure that students and young children continue to succeed. Now, as students and young children continue to return to the classroom and programs, educational equity remains a central element in reopening plans.

The resources on this page share school, early childhood program, and campus strategies that specifically address equity. Teachers, early childhood providers, faculty, staff, schools, districts, early childhood programs, institutions of higher education, other places of educational instruction, and States may use these lessons learned, best practices, and Federal resources to create inclusive plans of action to support teachers, early childhood educators, faculty, and staff returning to schools, early childhood programs, and campuses.

A group of Native Americans wearing masks
What Tribal Communities Need to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines

Each tribal nation or State has its own plan for deciding who will be vaccinated first. Contact your health department or clinic to find out when and where vaccines will be available in your community.

A group of multi-ethnic students and African American adult wearing masks
Implementing CDC’s K-12 Operational Strategy to Keep Students, Educators, and Staff Safe: Lessons from the Field

In understanding how best to reopen schools safely, educators and school leaders have underscored the need to support students who have been most impacted by COVID-19. As part of the National Safe School Reopening Summit, a discussion panel was convened entitled Implementing CDC’s K-12 Operational Strategy to Keep Students, Educators, and Staff Safe: Lessons from the Field. This video features Shari Obrenski, President of the Cleveland Teachers’ Union, highlighting the strategies implemented by the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to support students experiencing severe challenges upon their return to the classroom. Obrenski emphasizes family connections, in-person instruction, social emotional learning, and professional development opportunities for teachers.

Seizing the Moment: Race Equity Mindsets, Social and Emotional Well-Being, and Outcomes for Students

This webinar consisted of a panel discussion on the relationships between race equity mindsets; social and emotional well-being; and outcomes of Black, Latinx and other students of color. Presenters shared evidence-based strategies for school and district leaders in shifting to a race equity mindset, highlighting the importance of positive social and emotional experiences in advancing equitable environments and outcomes. An accompanying webinar handout is included, providing tips, questions to consider, and additional resources.

Submit Your Lessons Learned and Best Practices

Have a lessons learned or best practice focused on helping to ensure equity as schools and campuses work to continually reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic? Visit the Best Practices Submission page to view details on submission requirements, and then e-mail Bestpracticesclearinghouse@ed.gov to share your lessons learned or best practice.

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