Updated: Apr 6, 2020
Dear Friends & Colleagues,
I hope you are well.
The Corona pandemic has led to multiple school closings around the world, often leaving parents without guidance or resources to address their children’s education needs. This situation is expected to persist for at least several weeks, possibly longer. At Bennett, we have been monitoring closely the education landscape so as to be able to provide guidance to our clients. While the situation is fast-changing, recent developments include:
Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Michigan and New Mexico have become the first US states to close all K-12 schools.
US municipalities including San Francisco, Denver, Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, and New York City have also closed their public schools.
Twenty-four European countries have closed all of their schools, and an additional five have local or regional closures.
A significant number of SAT test centers have been closed globally. Detailed information is available here: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register/test-center-closings
The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) has extended Spring coursework deadlines. Detailed information is available here: https://www.ibo.org/news/news-about-the-ib/covid-19-coronavirus-updates/
It is uncertain if the ACT test scheduled for April will proceed. Detailed information is available here: https://www.act.org/content/act/en/covid-19.html
As circumstances warrant, we will share additional school-specific information. After the health and safety of their children, avoiding disruption of their children’s education is a major concern for parents on assignment. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” approach that can adequately address the complexity of each family’s current situation. An effective response must consider the following factors:
Different locations have different scopes and timeframes for school closures. In some cities or countries, all schools are closed indefinitely. In others, some independent/private schools are closed, but many of the state/public schools are still open. In the UK, the public/state system was still operating. Some locations are permitting limited schooling activities, such as exams, but requiring most students to stay home. The status of a give location or school system can change quickly.
In much of the northern hemisphere, the academic year is three-quarters complete and some schools there have decided to send students home for the remainder of the year. In much of the southern hemisphere, school years begin in January or early February, so the academic year has just begun. School closings will, therefore, impact those two scenarios differently.
Some schools are providing extensive distance learning for their students that will allow much of the academic program to continue. Others have sent students away with little guidance and few resources. Most schools are somewhere between those two extremes.
Definitions of terms like “home schooling,” “online learning,” and “distance learning” vary from location to location. Many jurisdictions regulate or limit types of education provided outside of regular schools but may be considering more flexibility, given the current situation.
There are a great many online education providers and products available today, but they vary greatly in quality. Some are not accredited, meaning that coursework and exams will not be of value in the child’s academic record. Please see our latest bulletin, written for parents, which includes information on distance learning and provides guidance on how to approach it: Bennett International
Obviously, the age and profile of a student make a big difference in the nature and extent of the support best provided at home. In many cases, graduation requirements and/or end-of-year exams pose a significant challenge for secondary school students even though many of them have significant experience studying independently. Meanwhile, although younger students have more time to catch up on missed classroom experience, they may also be less able to direct their own at-home study. Children with Special Education Needs who require specific supports may be even more challenged to continue productive study from home.
What Can Bennett Do to Help?
As your Education Partner, we have been receiving many inquiries from you about supporting your assignees whose children’s education has been thrown into upheaval. Please know, therefore, that we remain able and ready to assist you and your employees—with distance learning options, with engaging appropriate online tutors, and with longer range planning of all sorts. We have a dedicated team of researchers who are monitoring education-related updates around the world and who are fully informed on a range of online learning options and vetted tutoring companies. In response to your inquiries, we are adapting our more traditional services to fit the current situation such that we may address the individual nature and complexity of each family’s situation. If your assignee families are in need of advice or assistance, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sincerely & with best wishes,
Elizabeth Sawyer, CEO & Timothy Dwyer, President