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Staff experiences during COVID-19: What have we learned?

Can you believe it? The first anniversary of our original lockdown is right around the corner. It makes me reminisce about the uncertainty it brought but also the creativity it fostered.

Personally, I challenged myself to make the tastiest (and, sometimes, wackiest) soups with ingredients I already had on hand … until I ate so much soup that my body was desperate for something crunchy.

Fortunately, nearly one year later, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and the vaccine has begun to hit arms. Unfortunately, however, the rest of the school year will likely remain status quo.

Since last spring, we have conducted numerous staff surveys that include questions designed to understand staff experiences, frustrations, and ideas for improvement as they interact with students and colleagues in a new, and often distant, way.

So, what have we learned?

Somewhat surprisingly, “COVID-era” staff data has slightly improved relative to two years ago (the 2018-19 school year). While we’ve identified lots of issues around students’ access to technology, headaches with in-person vs. virtual vs. hybrid learning, as well as day-to-day communication (among other things), schools seem to have kept their heads above water.

Trust and consistency in department leadership have seen the largest improvement. When schools were closed last spring (some still remain fully closed), it was as critical as ever for staff members to be “on the same page” in order to create and execute their learning plan. Survey responses have stressed the need for constant communication from leadership – and there really isn’t such thing as “too much.”

Staff members also say they are more up-to-date with emerging technologies and how they can be used for teaching and learning. Technology, like iPads and Chromebooks, is the only thing connecting teachers to their students in some districts, so the pandemic has likely caused some staff members who were not as well-versed in these devices to become overnight experts.

One more notable improvement is how schools have been able to meet students' social and emotional needs. This topic has been a point of emphasis in the past few years, and you would think a pandemic would stall any progress made. That doesn’t appear to be the case. Schools have prioritized these students' needs over the past 10 months to make sure they don't fall through the cracks.

So, contrary to some of the things I’ve read warning of a “lost year” (in the academic sense), it seems as though schools have fought hard to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Staff members thrive on good communication, direction, and support from leadership but have proven to be flexible and determined to continue education in a world that has tried to put it on hold.

Contact us today to implement a midyear COVID-19 staff check-in with your staff. Also, our next blog post will focus on parent experiences during COVID-19 as our midyear parent check-in survey rolls out this month.


The School Perceptions Blog and Resource Center features the voices of our team members. This post was written by Chelsea Davis, Data Analyst.


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