Figuring out the Fall, and the “New Normal”

The Fall semester is in full swing, and most students are back in school and on campus, albeit with masks, random COVID tests, socially distanced lunchrooms, and lots of other changes, big and small. IT’s good to have our kids back in the classroom, and we all hope that things work out for the best, and that they can stay there.


The pandemic, and three semesters of “Zoom School,” have set our kids back. The US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights documents this in great detail. As parents and educators, we know this, deep in our bones, that our kids have lost ground academically, socially, emotionally. That being said, the relief programs passed in the fall of 2020 and the spring of 2021 provide an enormous amount of funding to our school districts to address learning loss. I wrote about this for Dual Language Schools a year ago. What concerns many of us in the Dual Language space is that our programs, our teachers, and our district immersion leaders aren’t being consulted when districts and states set their plans for spending the “Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief” funds – the $180 billion that the US Congress has set aside to help our kids recover educationally from the COVID nightmare.


So my request of all of the readers of this column, is to reach out to your school boards, and ask them how they are using ESSER funding to help Dual Language Learners. That’s it – a short column, but a critical request. The First Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees each of us the right to “petition the Government for a redress of grievance” – to ask our elected and appointed officials to do their jobs, and act on our behalf. We need to ask how districts plan to remediate learning loss in Dual Language Programs. Reach out to them now.

Bill Rivers
Author: Bill Rivers

Dr. Bill Rivers has more than 25 years of leadership experience in culture and language for economic development and national security, with expertise in the private, public, and non-profits sectors, in research, assessment, program evaluation, policy development and advocacy. Before joining JNCL-NCLIS, he served as Chief Scientist at Integrated Training Solutions, Inc., a small business in Arlington, Virginia. While at ITS, he served in a contractor role as the Chief Linguist of the National Language Service Corps. Prior to working at ITS, he was co-founder of the Center for Advanced Study of Language at the University of Maryland.

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