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Schooling during COVID-19: What changes will stay?

Illustration of a student laptop
(Illustration: Jayesh/Getty Images)

Schooling during COVID-19: What changes will stay?

Stanford education historian Larry Cuban shares his predictions about the innovations in teaching and learning that will survive the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed schools into fundamentally different ways of operating in the short term, from the wholesale adoption of online teaching platforms to the growing number of colleges waiving standardized admission test requirements.

When classes resume in person, will any of these changes become the norm?  

On this episode of School’s In, Larry Cuban, an emeritus professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE), joins GSE Dean Dan Schwartz and Senior Lecturer Denise Pope to share his predictions about innovations in schooling during the crisis that are likely to survive once the pandemic subsides.

Photo of Larry Cuban

GSE Emeritus Professor Larry Cuban (Photo: Holly Hernandez)

Cuban, a leading scholar on the history of school reform and author, most recently, of Chasing Success and Confronting Failure in American Public Schools, points to historical precedents for insight—specifically the influenza epidemic of 1918-19, the Great Depression and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

The 1918 outbreak is most analogous to current events, he says, suggesting incremental changes in how schools assemble students for the next two to three years, until a vaccine is developed and becomes widely available. “For the first couple of years, you’re going to have multiple-shift schools,” he says, to limit the number of students in class at one time. Once students are able to gather as they used to, he expects modest changes held over from the closures—such as an increase in teaching online—as a cost-saving measure to cushion the blow of the inevitable recession.

“It’s going to be a bad time for schools, and they'll soldier through like schools always have,” Cuban says. “They'll get through, but there will be cost.”

You can listen to School's In on SiriusXM, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Soundcloud.

Faculty mentioned in this article: Larry Cuban

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