A Collaboration between the Ohio Department of Education and the Center for Urban Education at Cleveland State University
Schools face an unprecedented situation in the 2020-21 school year. Covid-19 drove Ohio’s K-12 schools and districts to close their buildings in the spring of 2020 and shift to remote learning. It has also affected the well-being of untold thousands of families in the state. Schools and districts are challenged with creating and maintaining a sense of community going this fall, both remotely in person. They also have to help students, staff, and families process and overcome trauma caused by the pandemic. While there is not yet much research evidence on the effects of Covid-19 on schools, there is evidence from past disruptions to schooling that suggest negative effects on students’ learning and social and emotional outcomes. What is more, the harm from Covid-19 has likely been more severe for traditionally marginalized groups.
At the same time, we are in a historic moment in our country following another brutal and public episode of police violence against a Black man. The protests and movement for racial justice following the murder of George Floyd are laying bare long-running and systemic issues of racism and inequality. Many schools and districts are rising to the moment by considering how to be better stewards of equity, inclusions, and justice.
This document summarizes research-based school climate improvement strategies to help schools and districts think about how to build safe and supportive communities that support the whole child amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and the racial justice movement. Our goal as authors of this document is to provide guidance to schools and districts in Ohio on how to thrive and be better than we were before: better in the way that schools and districts promote a positive and equitable school climate where all students feel safe, supported, and well. And better in the way that schools and districts serve as anti-racist, justice-promoting institutions where students can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.
Strategy #1. State a School Vision and Mission that Includes Values of Community and Racial Justice