There are more than 60 million K-12 students in North America. And with the shift to digital learning, school districts have faced an overwhelming flood of data as they’ve been forced to embrace digital learning.
Although this has driven a great deal of innovation in edtech, for many school districts it was not a smooth transition.
Even now, parents are still hesitant to send children back to school. And one can hardly blame them. Coupled with the fact that a large percentage of the K-12 population cannot yet be safely vaccinated, socially-distanced classrooms and masks are jarring for many students.
Yet educators also agree that a return to in-person learning is absolutely necessary, with 70% concerned that students who struggled academically during quarantine may never catch up.
So, how did school districts cope with these challenges? Read on to learn more about how we helped leading school districts overcome their COVID-19 data challenges.
Balancing Risk in the Classroom
In-person learning had to resume eventually. That much was clear. The question was how?
What measures were necessary to keep everyone healthy and safe? Government and healthcare organizations provided some insight into this. The Ontario government, for instance, released a comprehensive health and safety guidebook which covered the following, in broad strokes:
- A safety plan: This is largely a matter of controlling risk, and necessitates contact tracing, provisioning of proper PPE for faculty and students, and other measures such as social distancing.
- Screening: Schools and school districts must screen each teacher, administrator, and student before they can be allowed on school grounds. This can be achieved in several different ways, including via an online screening tool, rapid antigen screening, or onsite testing.
- Monitoring: The Ontario Medical Association’s COVID-19 Attestation Forms can be used in lieu of a doctor’s note for individuals who wish to return to school or work. It accounts for multiple risk factors, including vaccination status, prior exposure to the virus, and current symptoms.
These recommendations would soon become mandates. As of September 7, 2021, proof of vaccination is required to access public settings and services. This mandate applies not just to the general public, but to employees, including school faculty and administration.
Even with a full roster of teachers and back-office staff, schools could not afford to manage a new data stream alongside paper documents and physical filing systems. Not only do these systems require extensive manual labor to maintain, they can also act as a transmission vector (albeit one with a low risk of infection). The digitization of student records, in other words, is a more pressing matter than ever.
Not Quite the Right Tools for the Job
The good news is that, at least where vaccine records are concerned, the government provided multiple assessment and monitoring tools, such as COVID Alert. Unfortunately, those tools introduced an entirely new set of problems. Although they made contact tracing considerably easier, they represented yet another data silo; another island in an already-fragmented ecosystem.
This was true even of school districts that had successfully progressed down the path of digital transformation. Edtech platforms are designed to manage datasets like payroll, attendance records, and classroom performance. They do not natively support functionality such as vaccine tracking — nor are the government-provided tools designed for integration. However, this is likely to change as integration is used to solve data gaps and ensure the safety of both staff and students.
Right now, a school district that wishes to incorporate contact tracing, alerting, and attestation into their existing solutions must therefore rely on third-party solutions.
So, to summarize, school districts are staring down the following challenges in light of vaccine mandates:
- Managing systems that are not properly integrated with one another.
- Bridging the gap between physical and digital student/faculty records.
- Balancing the data from external COVID monitoring tools with their own data sources.
- Pivoting from physical to digital to hybrid over an abnormally short timeframe.
- Potentially managing an entirely new dataset with unfamiliar compliance requirements.
The solution to all of the problems above boils down to choosing the right software. Education was far from the only sector faced with a multitude of unprecedented challenges. Cloud software vendors have since emerged as the best possible means of tackling those challenges.
Because they are already virtual, they don’t need to pivot. They can bring clients to their level of digital transformation. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the SaaS sector saw explosive growth alongside edtech, with the former projected to reach $307 billion by 2026.
Nor should it be surprising that Edsembli emerged with a solution to the education sector’s vaccine monitoring challenges.
How Edsembli Introduces a New World of Data
Here’s where Edsembli comes in. Armed with a deep understanding of K-12 education, we knew what needed to be done at the outset. As a result, we were able to pivot rapidly and effectively to meet even the most complex demands and use cases.
Our modular Edsembli Ecosystem is purpose-built for integration. This along with our rich network of partners allowed us to ensure our customers had the technology required to manage COVID tracing and attestation. More importantly, they’re able to do so without jumping between multiple databases — instead, they’ve one seamless ecosystem that integrates vaccination status with payroll, finance, human resources, and student information.
Are you interested in seeing how the Edsembli Ecosystem can transform the way you manage, integrate, and access your data when it comes to the student experience or COVID-19? Book a demo with our team today to get started.