Supporting our community during school closures

Hi everybody,

The whole planet is watching history unfold. We might feel worried for loved ones, ourselves, or for society at large. In Seattle, where Code.org’s headquarters is located, and in many other cities, all but the most essential businesses are closed. Throughout the United States and the world, schools and businesses are closing as more and more people quickly come to terms with the realization that most of us underestimated the exponential growth of this virus. It’s pretty clear there is no easy solution.

At the same time, the rapid events of the weekend give me confidence—complete confidence—that as we all recognize what we’re up against, and that humanity will come together, globally, to beat this thing.

We’re still in a period of uncertainty, and with the situation changing daily, we’ll need to react quickly to new data. At Code.org, we are following guidelines from the World Health Organization to keep our students, teachers, schools and communities safe.

The majority of U.S. states have closed their schools. At Code.org, we’re preparing for every major school system to close sometime in April. This has two ramifications for our work.

  1. First, our ability to help schools expand computer science offerings is greatly disrupted. We are working through what this means for our 2020 professional learning program for teachers.
  2. Secondly, it means tens of millions of students will be learning at home, and we’ll need to put in a major effort to help schools and teachers support these students and their parents, whether through curating existing resources or creating new ones.

In response to the immense Covid-19 challenge, Code.org is working rapidly to make a major investment in online education without an in-person instructor — for our facilitators, our teachers, and our students. Historically, Code.org’s investment has been in in-person learning, with online learning as a secondary priority. We now need to work hard to support both.

We’ve made a short, simple page of recommendations for educators and parents who want to give students a chance to learn computer science and coding while at home.

We also recognize that online learning isn’t accessible to the most needy students, and while online learning may open new doors beyond physical borders, it can’t support students who don’t have devices or connectivity.

To address this, we’re excited to announce Code Break, a live weekly webcast where our team will teach your children at home while school is closed, and a weekly challenge to engage students of all abilities, even those without computers.

Parents, teachers and students can sign up to receive information and invites to Code Break sessions, which will happen every Wednesday, starting March 25, at 10am PT / 1pm ET.

We’ll continuing doing what we can to provide resources and enable parents to use mobile apps or unplugged activities with their children. With school closures, the problem of device or internet access is a big enough obstacle to equity, and I am hopeful that collectively we will find creative solutions to provide devices for kids who don’t have them.

Lastly, at a personal level, I know this is not an easy time, and it is going to get harder. Our friends, family, colleagues, and people in our communities and around the world are worried about losing childcare, income, jobs, and even their lives or the lives of loved ones. Many of our teachers and students are especially hurting. Times like this will try our patience and our emotions, while giving us all an opportunity to show each other and those around us the best versions of ourselves.

If there’s ever a time to find creative ways to support each other, it is now. I’m sure the human race will rise to this challenge, and the team at Code.org, along with our many partners, supporters and advocates in the world of CS education, will come together to make it through and play our role.

-Hadi Partovi, Code.org

Written by

Code.org® is dedicated to expanding access to computer science increasing participation by young women and students from other underrepresented groups.

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