December 4, 2020

Hello Friends!

I know it has not been very long, but I have missed sharing resources with you, at least that is what the length of this week’s list tells me. I hope you rested your eyes over the Thanksgiving break! 

For you skimmers… 

This article overview  from Ogletree Deakins , a good piece on mandating vaccination for students, this one on mandating vaccines for employees, this HBR article  on sounding inclusive, this piece on the uselessness of mindfulness,  this piece on Black teens dating, this one on a new relationship model with parents, and this piece around student relationships. 

Big News of the Week(s)

Has been really around both the vaccine and the change in the CDC guidance around contact based quarantines and asymptomatic people. Let’s start with the latter as that has our immediate attention. I like this article overview from Ogletree Deakins on how to think about the new guidance reducing the contact based quarantine period, and here is the guidance itself. At this point, schools seem a bit split on adopting this new 10 day quarantine period, with some schools moving in this direction and others either waiting for further guidance from the state or a meeting of their medical advisory group to talk through the changes. Still others are adopting the changes for some circumstances, but potentially not others – such as when athletes who may be in close contact with other players are part of the calculus. Either way, this is a change and a welcome one for many schools facing staffing shortages due to the 14 day period. We are already starting to see states adopt the new guidance, like TX did here

The other big virus news relates to the vaccine, when it will be available, to whom, and whether schools should think about mandating the vaccine. The CDC has taken a first shot (ha!) at vaccination priorities, although much of the ultimate distribution and determinations will likely be made at the state level. We had a lively conversation on the listserve about how to have these conversations with your boards and leadership teams and I will work on pulling those thoughts together next week, but in the meantime, it might help to read some good pieces on the topic. This is a good piece on mandating vaccination for students, with a bit of insight into the possibility of state mandates. The student mandates might be a way off as these vaccines are just beginning to be tested on students over 12. On the employment front, there are some great articles out there, like this one

In other virus news, it looks like immunity might really last for a bit, despite cases of reinfection occasionally occurring. Despite all of the good news, epidemiologists are not changing their habits, or anticipating lifestyle changes for a while, and you might want to check your place in the vaccine line before you get too excited (I have roughly 287 million people in front of me). 


Sometimes the virus information feels kind of in the weeds, so here are some antidotes.

  • Do you think a bit about what you sound like to those listening? These kinds of studies fascinate me, and potentially make me a little mute as I reflect on whether I sound inclusive. Wondering if you do? Check this HBR article out
  • These next two just make me laugh. The first is on the downside of being relentlessly positive. This resonates with me because in my experience, being upbeat helps, being so positive as to border on delusional usually just leads to magical thinking and that rarely goes well, particularly in a crisis. The second is another clapback, this time at those who keep telling us to focus on being grateful for the present moment. It draws into sharp focus how the human brain is particularly designed to focus on the future, and how that very thing makes the dullness of the day to day right now that much more deadly.
  • The final one is one we are going to work on at SAIS, as there is good reasoning behind it. Sometimes half of the solution to a problem is in how we frame it

Interest pieces

I honestly have no idea where these two should go, but I think they are important. The first one was written by a friend of mine – Shafia Zaloom – who also wrote Sex, Teens, and Everything in Between. She has been working on this piece on Black teens dating for a while and it recently ran in the Washington Post. It is fascinating insight into their experiences, from them. Shafia works with teens and schools on sexuality education and routinely engages in amazingly brave and awkward conversations that never cease to astound me. 

The second of these pieces was written by our friends Michael Thompson and Rob Evans. It articulates a new relationship model between schools and parents, particularly as parent behavior and anxiety have been shifting in often unusual and confounding ways. 


There were some good legal docs out there this week and last. Three not to miss:

  • white paper outlining legal issues related to diversity initiatives, particularly around how to think about goals and quotas. 
  • Steps to take to further brace your enrollment agreement against tuition refund claims
  • Fisher Phillips’ 7 Point Plan prepping for 2021 

Higher Ed

Higher ed has some interesting things to watch happening right now. One group is capitalizing on college kids being off-site by creating a campus experience at a resort. The notion is that 150 college students, all attending a variety of schools, would decamp to a secluded resort where a bubble would be formed and they could have a reasonably “normal” college experience. There are interesting takes on this one. Are college campuses really resorts where learning happens to take place? 

Higher ed also took two data blows this week as international student numbers are down, way down, and may not be coming up any time soon.  And, domestically, students are putting a lot more thought into delaying college rather than experience the unusual campus or non-campus life on offer in 2020 and likely 2021. 

And What About the Learning? 

There is a waterfall of really interesting insights around learning and teaching, and school life in general. Pick and choose from the below as suits you. 

  • This piece around student relationships and how to map and measure them is incredible. We do this a lot as a student safety mechanism – to make sure that all students feel connected to at least one adult in a school – but this is the student angle. 
  • My son is a math guy, and as a Montessori student engaged in a lot of peer teaching math. This piece talks about the upsides of that peer teaching, how it is growing, and how to give it structure.
  • The data on the learning loss from the spring was not as bad as everyone thought it might be. And yet, the math scores were down. Math is apparently much more difficult to teach online, and EdWeek pulled together a nice set of support resources to help adjust our math teaching.
  •  Speaking of math, Sal Khan says remote learning is here to stay in some capacity, and he has ideas of how to make it better (after all, he was the original online teacher). 
  • These two resources are interesting ones. The first is on helping students focus on the learning, not the grade and the second is how to make grades actually meaningfulto students if they do focus on them. 

Some other quick hits: 

 If you are looking for a couple of things to listen to, check out the NAIS trustee table podcast on building a future together. You can find it under Trustee Table on podcast lists, or online here. You should also check out the Enrollment Spectrum podcast from the Enrollment Management Association. There are two there that I like right now – one on character in college admissions and the other on thinking like a rocket scientist. 

Finally, ’tis the season and this was an interesting article on gift giving and teachers that you might check out. And, for those in the giving spirit, NYT put out its notable book list that always has some interesting titles. 

And, mark your calendars for some excellent SAIS webinars next week – including on PPP loans, substance abuse prevention, positioning your school for making more progress in diversity, and a little self-care. 

You might also mark your calendar for this unusual alignment of planets that will create a “Christmas star.” Something no one has seen since the 13th century. 

Have a great weekend!