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FILE PHOTO: Mrs. Mitchell's senior English class is socially distant and at half-capacity at York Suburban High School in York, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 18, 2020. REUTERS/Rachel Wisniewski
TechTank

TechTank Podcast Episode 6: Is there a way to keep schools open safely?

Early in March, the COVID-19 pandemic began burning a furious path across the U.S., shuttering schools, and sending 50 million students home. Some of the nation’s largest public school districts, including New York City and Los Angeles, were the first to close their doors for the remainder of the academic year.

Many parents were forced to become educators for the first time in their lives. And school districts quickly tried to become fully equipped for distance learning—an experiment that laid bare the digital divide in America, and exposed a modern inequality exacerbated by the virus. 

With June, students, parents, and teachers got a brief respite from the demands of distance learning. But the pandemic summer moved quickly. By September, school districts across the country implemented scattershot reopening plans. 

As the effort to reopen schools happens across the country, one thing is certain: All will be forced to navigate this new normal in education while still in the middle of a public health crisis. But what does reopening look like, and how can it happen safely? And how will it evolve as COVID-19 remains uncontained in America? 

With the school year well underway, we need answers, good answers, and fast.

You can listen to the episode and subscribe to the TechTank podcast on AppleSpotify, or Acast.


TechTank is a biweekly podcast from Lawfare and The Brookings Institution exploring the most consequential technology issues of our time. From racial bias in algorithms to the future of work, TechTank takes big ideas and makes them accessible. In a series of roundtable discussions and interviews with technology experts and policymakers, moderators Dr. Nicol Turner Lee and Darrell West unpack tech policy debates and highlight new data, ideas, and policy solutions. Future episodes will explore the role of technology in election interference, disinformation campaigns, school reopening and broadband access, the digital divide and more. Sign up to receive the TechTank newsletter for more research and analysis from the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings.

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