- While recent natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires have plagued several school communities, a KnowledgeWorks report suggests these devastating incidents speak to a longer-term, more dangerous reality: Climate change and human migration will help drastically change what school looks like today, EdSurge reports.
- Climate change has increasingly been linked to natural disasters, which cause migration. As a result, the report says, displaced students will likely need to rely on online learning, and schools like Círculos Advanced Learning Academy in California — which doesn't have a fixed location but works by grouping students, teachers and community members in various spaces — could be the future model.
- While there may be hurdles in determining how and where to educate displaced students, the report's authors say the effects aren't all bad. As areas rebuild, avoiding gentrification and focusing on sustainable and community-involved revitalization efforts could pave the way for future educational options.
The past few years have seen a slew of natural disasters attack different areas of the U.S., ranging from New Jersey to Texas to Puerto Rico. During 2018 alone, the Florida Panhandle was devastated by Hurricane Michael, the Carolinas faced catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Florence, and California was hit by the most catastrophic wildfire season in the state's history. In many cases, homes vanished or washed away. In some cases, entire towns were wiped out. In almost all cases, schools and students, as well as their education, were affected in some way.
For every school that faced severe damages or crumbled altogether, the attending students and surrounding communities have to figure out a Plan B. Often, that means attending a nearby school that's in good enough shape to hold classes. But there's one problem with that solution — resources at those schools might already be tight. Nationwide, districts and schools are struggling with overcrowding, leading teachers to use rooms like closets as makeshift classrooms. In addition, many buildings are already facing a teacher shortage and are lacking other resources — from school supplies to mental health counselors — to support existing student populations.
If the frequency of these natural disasters continues to increase — which some experts suggest it will — school leaders should be prepared for what's to come. Making the most of ed tech opportunities with any available funds could help relieve some of the growing pains associated with losing physical school buildings and dealing with growing student populations. Additionally, interim measures like portable buildings can help accommodate more students while schools figure out the next steps after an event like a natural disaster. And, by holding discussions with school and community members, administrators can take a proactive stance. Ultimately, these external factors should not be barriers to a student's education.