The 2021-22 school year will be here before you know it! During the slower summer months it’s important to use your time wisely and make sure your school has the tools needed for a successful school year. We recommend taking time this summer to focus on training, development, and ensuring that your policies are up to date. 

Priorities Before Returning To School in 2021

Before the 2021-22 school year begins there are several policies that should be reviewed. However, two major policies should be top of mind as you prepare for the next school year: COVID, and Special Education Services. These policies should be reviewed, updated, and communicated to the staff and students. 

COVID Policies

It should come as no surprise that COVID is still a major concern for the upcoming school year even with the CDC (as well as parents, the community, and the kids themselves) in major support of returning to in-school education. After a year of experience it is still important to update and reiterate COVID-safety policy for your staff and students. The CDC recently updated their guidance on returning to school. That guidance covers many aspects of the upcoming school year including:

  • Returning to in-person learning. In-person learning is a high priority, as students get more benefits from in-person education.
  • Promoting vaccinations. Vaccinations will be key to returning to in-person learning, sports, and extracurriculars because it is our best way to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Social-Distancing. Per the CDC, schools should continue to maintain a three-foot social distance between students.
  • Mask-wearing. The CDC continues to encourage indoor mask-wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated.
  • Hand-washing and other precautions. Schools should continue to encourage hand-washing, staying at home when sick, contact tracing, and cleaning and disinfection protocols.
  • Other Strategies. Schools with students under the age of 12 (who are not eligible for vaccination at this time) should implement many protection strategies in order to protect their students and staff.

Special Education Services 

In the 2020 school year, special-ed looked very different because students were required to utilize home-based learning. When in-school education restarts for this year, it will be critical to make sure students are receiving the correct services. The job of Special Education Coordinators will be critical to make sure students are following their Individualized Education Plans (“IEPs”), that students are receiving services based on their current needs, and that students do not need additional services as a result of the last year of home-based learning. 

To keep students from falling behind, it will be important to stay on top of these issues early and often to identify and address any discrepancies or issues that students may have. Now is the best time to get plans in place to quickly address these needs as they arise. We offer an audit service for special education programs to make sure they are up to date and compliant to best serve your students and protect your school. 

Professional Development for Teachers

Educators should be attending professional development training every year. Most schools provide those sessions during the summer months. Set your staff and administrators up for success by providing the opportunity for this training now, before the busy school year begins. Ongoing professional development keeps your staff up to date on the latest practices, and can be a great opportunity to invest in your school’s community and culture. We recommend discussing the agenda and topics with your staff to make sure their input is considered and to make sure they are engaged in the process.

In addition to school-specific professional development, we recommend that you offer the following options:

  • Title IX training
  • Sexual Harassment training
  • Training on any new school policies and procedures
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training
  • Mandatory Reporter training
  • Effective Communication training

Administrator and Staff Communication

The summer is the best time to host training sessions on administrators’ communication. While we all like to think we have a great communication style with our staff, it may not always be the case. Reviewing how administrators and staff should communicate and providing effective communication tools can solve problems before they occur. 

Additionally it is important to review staff roles and responsibilities before the school year begins. This helps to make sure that everyone is on the same page, ensuring that things run more smoothly. Reviewing roles and responsibilities also helps your entire team work together to a common goal. 

Title IX Training

It is necessary that all staff are properly trained on Title IX before the school year begins. Title IX is enforced by US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and covers all students, faculty, staff, and other employees from sex discrimination. Preventing discrimination on the basis of sex and gender, as well as preventing sexual harassment and sexual misconduct is critical. 

Title IX training should educate your school administrators and staff about their individual rights and responsibilities to prevent and report any sexual misconduct or discrimination to provide a safe and respectful learning environment. 

Transcendent provides all of the training listed above and can help you and your team determine the training that you may need for your school and/or network.

Transcendent Law Group combines the best legal minds, the best business practices with the best technology to obtain the best results. Contact us today to learn more about how we help schools across the gulf south!