As higher education institutions look to reopen campuses robustly and safely in the fall, they will be able to lean on a new evidence-backed source for best practices.
The U.S. Department of Education announced on Friday the creation of a website called the Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse that will showcase the positive initiatives happening at colleges and universities as well as K-12 schools as they prepare for the 2021-22 academic year.
Last month, the Department asked for examples that have worked to curb “educational inequities” during the COVID-19 pandemic. It said it received more than 500 strategic initiatives plus 1,500 resources that can assist institutions and schools. The website already contains nearly 200 examples.
“It is encouraging to see states, districts and schools serving all levels of students using their best practices and lessons learned from each other and implementing these strategies to quickly reopen schools and campuses—all while keeping our students, teachers, faculty, and staff safe,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “There is no substitute for in-person learning and the Clearinghouse will be an invaluable resource as we continue the safe return to in-person instruction.”
One of those examples cited was Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in North Carolina, which launched a website dedicated to providing resources and information to its students not only on pandemic-related protocols and vaccination sites but also scholarship programs, local emergency rental assistance programs, food pantries and more.
The development of the website is part of President Joe Biden’s Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers. Including the examples from individual institutions are guidance from the Department and federal agencies on safe and healthy environments; supports such as mental health, social-emotional and academic resources for students; and faculty wellbeing support and professional development opportunities.
The Department also has a series of webinars called “Lessons from the Field” that provide “promising practices” for postsecondary institutions.
For those higher ed leaders that would like to share their experiences and own best practices, submissions can be sent to [email protected].