With the World Health Organization’s declaration that the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is officially a pandemic, people across the country and around the world are focusing their attention on what can be done in their communities to respond to the health emergency.
Importantly, this is an emergency where public health officials are clear that our individual actions as family members and community members can make a real difference in limiting the extent and speed of the virus if we act quickly and decisively. Our actions can help save lives.
As a national network of teachers and professors, we at the National Writing Project understand the complex and challenging decisions that schools and campuses are making about how best to respond to the pandemic. Even the best decisions carry complex consequences for families and communities, and we support our local host campuses, partner school districts, and individual teacher members in taking the actions they see as most appropriate in their communities. Local Writing Project sites are following the leads of their campuses in postponing professional development events or shifting to virtual events. School-based programs are being reconfigured to reduce exposure. And we are working with our funders and partners to ensure that local sites can make the health and welfare of their communities their first priority.
As a teacher network, however, we are also deeply focused on the implications for teaching and learning. Network leaders are working to organize resources and learning opportunities to support teachers in moving their instruction online as campuses and school districts send students home and direct faculty to begin virtual instruction. Teaching online is new for a majority of educators and timely support from experienced and effective online teachers will be critical. Many of these supports will be created by local Writing Project sites, but to follow the more widely available resources, we encourage you to sign up for our Write Now newsletter or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or at Medium.
Finally, as educators and writing teachers, we also feel a special responsibility to provide accurate information to our students and their families to help them be on guard against the spread of misinformation about COVID-19. NWP is working with Mike Caulfield, whose SIFT curriculum and teaching resources help students (or anyone) assess the credibility of online information. To help students sift through coronavirus posts and practice good “information hygiene,” visit the infodemic.blog and follow Tweets using the hashtags #infodemic #nwp.