Daily Video

June 17, 2020

What will schools look like when they reopen?


Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. This video has been edited for length. To watch the full video and read the transcription, click here.


Millions of students have been home since March when schools began shutting down for the coronavirus pandemic. A rural district in Premont, Texas, has brought some of its students back to the classroom on June 1—making it one of the first places in the country to do so. 

  • Between 20 and 25 percent of Premont students haven’t participated in school at all since transitioning to remote learning, according to Premont Superintendent Steve Vanmatre.
  • Vanmatre said that his schools would follow the lead of local public health agencies regarding best safety practices. He also said, however, that his administration doesn’t currently have a concrete plan in place for when a student or teacher contracts COVID-19.
  • Premont’s reopened schools will implement new safety precautions, like limited-capacity school buses, social distancing within the classroom, facemask use and the discontinuation of physical education, before- and after-school activities and recess.

Discussion questions:

  1. Essential question: How can schools best serve the educational needs of their students while still protecting public health?
  2. In the video, Superintendent Vanmatre says that 20 to 25 percent of students in his district stopped attending school once it went online. What are some reasons that a student might not attend virtual school during the pandemic? What are ways school districts can ensure the continued education of such students?
  3. Imagine you’re a superintendent looking into reopening your local community schools. What would be your main concerns? How would you aim to relieve those concerns? What data would you use to make that decision? Where would you get the data from?
  4. Media literacy: In his interview, Superintendent Vanmatre admits that he has questioned his decision to reopen schools and wondered if he’s impulsively putting students at risk. Do you think this admission made him seem honest or ill-prepared? How often do you see people express self-doubt in interviews?

Extension activity:

Watch this video from Student Reporting Labs about the Riding for Focus program at a Maryland middle school. 

  1. How might programs like Riding for Focus help schools provide new ways to imagine physical education and recess in light of coronavirus distancing concerns?
  2. What are some other activities you could imagine that could help schools provide the social, emotional and physical benefits of PE and recess during the coronavirus pandemic?

Today’s Daily News Story was written by EXTRA’s intern Carolyn McCusker, a senior at Amherst College.

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