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Lesson Plans: Education in a Time of COVID-19

Sara Plourde

COVID and the Classroom Reporting Initiative Looks at Challenges, Creative Solutions to Education in a Time of Pandemic

An ongoing reporting project from New Hampshire Public Radio takes a deeper look at how Granite Staters are balancing the need to educate our children with issues of safety and accessibility that are the realities of life under a pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic has upended the education system here in New Hampshire and across the country. School leaders, classroom educators and staff making some of the hardest decisions of their lives. Parents, students and families are also are navigating unknown territory that could have big consequences for children’s education, development and growth.

For some, the risks of contracting and spreading the virus are too high to return to school. But closing or limiting access to school can hamper kids’ education, deepen existing inequalities, and wreak havoc on family finances. Families facing economic challenges also find themselves in a particularly tough spot, as working parents must balance the needs of their employers with the need to participate in their children’s education via homeschooling or helping with remote learning.

COVID & the Classroom explores how education is evolving during the pandemic, and the ways that teachers, administrators and families are trying to weigh risk, stay healthy, and help students learn in constrained circumstances. Some of the topics include how:

• How hybrid schools that use a combination of in-person and remote learning are performing and meeting the needs of the community.
• How millions of dollars may be at stake for low-income students next year, due to an unintended consequence of the national expansion of the free and reduced lunch program for K-12 students.
• The digital divide and the impact it’s having on local learning.
The reasons behind why remote learning isn’t a fair substitute for students across the state.
• How parents and teachers from across the state feel about school re-openings. NHPR spoke with parents and teachers from across the state to hear what they had to say.

“This reporting project has helped us build stronger relationships with our audience, as we hear what it’s like to go through this unique time – as students, teachers and parents. Audience voices are shaping our reporting questions and providing color and context in our stories,” says NHPR’s Managing Editor Cori Princell.

Further plans for the COVID & the Classroom initiative include reporting on topics such as:

• Challenges of continuing ELL (English Language Learner) programs under remote learning.
• Student athletes facing the loss of winter sports.
• The tough financial choices schools make given the likelihood of continued costs associated with the pandemic.
• Frustration from some families and taxpayers over reopening plans that don’t get students fully back into the building.

As part of ongoing engagement efforts to hear firsthand from those navigating the educational landscape, audiences are encouraged to respond to prompts sent out by the NHPR newsroom every few weeks and share thoughts about how this unusual school year is playing out across the state.

To participate in the COVID & the Classroom initiative:

• Email tips and questions about what you’re seeing, or photos of remote learning to
• Fill out a quick survey to contribute to future stories.
• Visit the COVID & the Classroom homepage to stay up to date with info and reports.

NOTE: Support for COVID & the Classroom is provided in part by a grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.


About NHPR

Since 1981, New Hampshire Public Radio has shaped the media landscape in the Granite State and beyond. Our mission is “Expanding minds, sparking connections, building stronger communities.” NHPR is broadcast from 14 different sites, making it by far New Hampshire’s largest (and only) statewide radio news service. Every week, NHPR is the choice of 157,000 listeners as a primary source of in-depth and intelligent news coverage, with thousands more viewing, following our social media sites or listening to our podcasts. Each day, New Hampshire Public Radio delivers several hours of local news reported by its award-winning news team. Locally produced programs and podcasts include The Exchange, The Folk Show, Outside/In, and Civics 101, among others. NHPR is the exclusive outlet for NPR News in the Granite State and broadcasts national weekly programs such as The Moth Radio Hour, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, and This American Life. Visit to access our news and information.

Aytaj Ismayilova is NHPR’s digital membership associate. She worked as a marketing intern for CatchFire creative agency and as a public relations intern for a local Concord communications agency Louis Karno & Co Communication.

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