NREA Weekly Updates: December 10th, 2021

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RSC & NREA Rural Teacher Job Board
The Daily Yonder
Research Results: ‘Who Comes Home?’
Research Results: ‘Who Comes Home?’
“Brain drain” is an all-too-familiar depiction of families standing on the front porch waving goodbye as their pride and joy leave for colleges and move to distant cities for generous-paying jobs and the excitement of urban centers.
What about the opposite scenario: the lure of returning home for college graduates?
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Research Report: Broadband Drives Growth in Women-led Rural Entrepreneurship
Research Report: Broadband Drives Growth in Women-led Rural Entrepreneurship
The Great Recession hit rural America hard. Roughly a decade later, even before the pandemic, employment still hadn’t recovered, income was 35% lower than urban areas, and the population was declining. One key to the return of thriving small towns may be broadband, and the technology may also be critical for creating a more diverse and dynamic local economy in rural areas.
Our recent research looks at the effect of broadband access on entrepreneurship in rural counties. Specifically, we look at the intersection of broadband on different sizes of business start-ups and the unique effect it has on female entrepreneurs.

The Rural Educator
Growing Your Own Educational Leaders: Implications for Rural School Districts and Institutions of Higher Education
Growing Your Own Educational Leaders: Implications for Rural School Districts and Institutions of Higher Education
The purpose of this article is to examine a ‘grow your own’ model of leadership preparation and placement of educational administrators in the state of Tennessee. The growing need for school and district administrators in the rural counties of Tennessee mirrors a nationwide issue, and state policymakers and practitioners must respond appropriately to sustain adequate K-12 educational leadership that is representative of state demographics. Recommendations for policy and practice are provided for state and local education agencies as well as principal preparation programs in higher education.
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Webinar: Leadership Strategies to Boost Teacher Morale
Webinar: Leadership Strategies to Boost Teacher Morale
“My teachers are tired and morale is low.”
Tuesday, December 14th, 2021 at 2 pm ET

Sound familiar? It’s a common refrain that principals across the country are unfortunately repeating these days. Staff shortages and evolving safety procedures are just a portion of the many factors contributing to staff feeling stretched-thin.

As a leader, what can you do to support your staff through these challenging times?
Just as teachers carefully consider the ways in which they want students to use their time in the classroom, leaders must regularly reflect on the ways in which teachers are using their time during the day. Being thoughtful about providing time for teachers to reflect, connect with colleagues, and celebrate growth can go a long way to improving teacher morale.

In this BetterLesson Live learning session, we'll help leaders identify 3 paths to creating and implementing a staff morale strategic plan. One that helps prioritize teacher well-being and supports them in helping students maximize learning in a manageable and sustainable way.
Key Takeaways:
Examine the 3Ts: Tone, Time, Talent Support, and Development
  • Leaders set the tone of the culture in their building. Learn how to create a culture of genuine appreciation, care, and relationship building.
  • The pandemic has completely modified teachers' relationship to time. Explore ways to give teachers some time flexibility back, even back in the building.
  • Talent needs to be developed and supported in meaningful ways. Demonstrate a path for growth, and a way Teachers will be recognized and valued for that growth.
Click this link to register:
U.S. Department of Education
U.S. Department of Education Launches Two Communities of Practice to Help States Address Impact of the Pandemic on Students
U.S. Department of Education Launches Two Communities of Practice to Help States Address Impact of the Pandemic on Students
Today, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) launched two new multistate communities of practice to support states in addressing the impact of lost instructional time from the pandemic on students’ social, emotional, and mental health, and academic well-being.
“Students across the country have felt the impact of school building closures as a result of the pandemic. While the good news is that nearly 100 percent of America’s schools have now returned to in-person instruction, we must provide the necessary supports to nurture all students’ social-emotional well-being, mental health, and positive academic outcomes by addressing the impact of lost instructional time,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “I’m proud that these new communities of practice, supporting the use of American Rescue Plan funds, will help states engage in this vital work.”
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The Department recently launched two communities of practice to support states and school districts in addressing the impact of lost instructional time from the pandemic on students’ social, emotional, and mental health and academic well-being. 
The Evidence-Based Interventions: Using American Rescue Plan (ARP) Resources to Accelerate Learning Community of Practice -- with the National Comprehensive Center -- will work with states and communities in accelerating learning using ARP funding in sustainable ways. The Department invites State Education Agencies (SEAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), and community-based organizations to participate. They will explore different evidence-based strategies to accelerate learning and build their organizational capacity to support districts and schools in implementing these practices with fidelity, using ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds for interventions, such as high-dosage tutoring and expanding learning time. They will address students’ needs by equipping educators, staff, partners, and leaders with the skills they need to design and deploy interventions that work for all students to recover lost instructional time, with a focus on those most impacted by the pandemic. 
The Toward an Equitable Education and Recovery: Transforming Kindergarten Community of Practice -- in partnership with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and the Department’s T4PA Center, as well as others -- will engage a cohort of state and district teams to share best practices, policies, and initiatives that allow the kindergarten year to become a more effective path to early school success and learning recovery, especially for those children who have been historically underserved and most impacted by the pandemic. This community of practice will consist of a series of virtual convenings on topics such as social-emotional development, family engagement, and supportive transitions that respond to disparities in access to in-person learning and the under-enrollment of young children. 
Moreover, the Department will continue to support the 49-state Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborativethrough the Strategic Use of Summer and After-School Set-Asides Community of Practice. 
Separately, the agency announced the approval of two more ARP ESSER Fund state plans -- Washington and Wisconsin -- and distributed remaining ARP ESSER funding to those jurisdictions. The plans detail how states are using and intend to use ARP ESSER funds to safely reopen and sustain the operations of schools and classrooms and address the essential needs of students, including by equitably expanding educational opportunities for students disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. To date, 49 plans have been approved (see state-by-state press releases and highlights online). 
And, in an op-ed, Secretary Cardona noted actions taken by the Administration to address school staffing shortages. 
Covid Collaborative
Covid Collaborative Press Release
Covid Collaborative Press Release
Today, we launch Hidden Pain: Children Who Lost a Parent or Caregiver to COVID-19 and What the Nation Can Do to Help Them. Of the more than 760,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19 as of November 17, 2021, there are 167,000 children under 18 who have lost a parent or other in-home caregiver, with the greatest impact on communities of color and children 13 and younger who are the most dependent. The extraordinary Sheryl Gay Stolberg of theNew York Times ran an exclusive on the effort this morning, which will also be in print tomorrow, and our press release has been issued to generate other coverage around the country.
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On December 2, President Biden announced new actions to combat COVID-19 as the country heads into the winter months and with the emergence of the omicron variant. 
“I pledged to always be straight with the American people and tell you the truth,” the President explained. “Here’s the truth about the new omicron variant: while it is a cause for concern, it is not a cause for panic. Experts say that COVID-19 cases will continue to rise in the weeks ahead of this winter and that we will see more omicron cases here in the U.S. in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Our best scientists and doctors are on the case and gathering data, but early indications are that our vaccines will provide a measure of protection against this strain. We have the tools to protect ourselves and battle this virus, and I’m laying out a plan to do just that this winter. 
“We are going to fight COVID-19, not with shutdowns or lockdowns but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing, and more. We will beat it back with science and speed, not chaos and confusion -- just as we did in the spring and again with the more powerful delta variant in the summer and fall.” 
Among other actions, the President’s plan emphasizes vaccinations to protect children and keep schools open by:
  • launching hundreds of family vaccination clinics to get the whole family vaccinated or boosted at one trusted and convenient location;
  • requiring Medicaid to pay health care providers to talk to families about getting children vaccinated;
  • reviewing school COVID-19 prevention policies to avoid closures of entire classrooms or schools when there is a positive case;
  • having the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released findings on quarantine and testing policies in schools;
  • issuing a new “Safe Schools Checklist” to give schools a clear game plan for how to get as many of their students and staff vaccinated as possible; and
  • providing every resource to the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to support timely review of applications for vaccines for children under the age of 5. 
Meanwhile, with the emergence of the omicron variant, the CDC strengthened its recommendations on boosters and encouraged everyone ages 16 and older to get a booster shot. 
Also, in a video, Senior Advisor to Secretary Nick Simmons walked through the Department’s COVID-19 data dashboard -- tool educators and administrators can use to keep students safely in the class. 
Additionally, as part of the latest #ConversationsWithCardona, the Secretary sat down with school and community leaders in Maryland to hear about their success in keeping classrooms safe. 
Finally, Enzo, a kindergarten student in Virginia, shared why he is excited to be back in school and how getting vaccinated makes that possible. 


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