Pandemic Education is Real: How Educators Should Respond | John Watson | 4 Min Read

After a tumultuous end to the 2020 Spring Semester due to COVID-19, Fall 2020 brought a waning summer pandemic surge, and many school leaders yearned for a return to normalcy. They pushed to have students back in schools, and in many cases let their hopes interfere with planning for the likely COVID winter resurgence. But viruses don’t care about human hopes, and in fact, the Winter 2020-21 impact on schools and students was, in many places, as disruptive as the initial COVID closures had been.

By early spring, the widespread availability of vaccines was on the horizon, and again it was easy to look to the future and envision a return to “normal”, in education and across society. But again, the virus had a trick to play, in the form of the Delta variant. Now, as the new school year is underway, we are seeing school openings delayed, a shift back to emergency remote learning, battles over masks and mandates, and another extended period of uncertainty.

As we begin the third school year impacted by the pandemic, it’s time to shift our thinking in a few ways. Instead of seeing COVID as an event to…

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John Watson

As Evergreen’s founder and primary researcher, John Watson is responsible for conducting, writing, and presenting research as well as providing testimony on digital learning matters to state boards of education, legislatures, and charter school commissions. He has extensive knowledge and experience based on his two decades working in online learning and education technology. This background has afforded him a wide-reaching network across the spectrum of education professionals, policymakers, and subject matter experts as well as the ability to provide insightful, dimensional analysis and recommendations. After earning his MBA and a MS in natural resource policy at the University of Michigan, John went to work for one of the first Learning Management System companies, eCollege, in early 1998. He launched eCollege’s K-12 division, called eClassroom, and managed eClassroom’s research and business development. This experience was the springboard for John’s independent consulting in environmental policy and education which evolved into what Evergreen Education Group is today. John is deeply moved by stories of students and teachers who have been positively impacted by technology in classrooms, online courses, and innovative schools. He strives to tell these stories accurately and to clearly explain the challenges inherent with digital learning in order to bring an honest, balanced perspective to Evergreen’s insight and recommendations. His ability to approach research and relationships with consideration for bias and hierarchy makes him a natural connector between information and people. John has presented and led panel discussions at numerous conferences and convenings. In addition to his research for Evergreen, John writes regularly about various issues related to digital learning and is a contributing author of the Handbook of Research on K-12 Online and Blended Learning. His and Evergreen’s work has been cited in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Education Week, and eSchool News, and he has also appeared on NBC Nightly News.