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Press release content from PR Newswire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.

Free Guide Helps Schools Navigate Debates Over In-Person Education

June 28, 2021 GMT

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Drawing on extensive real-world experience with school dialogues, the Massachusetts-based nonprofit Essential Partners (EP) has published a Guide to Conversations About Education After COVID.

This new free guide can help school communities—parents, students, educators, and officials—engage in honest, inclusive dialogue to heal the divisions of the pandemic and envision a path forward together.

“We want parents, teachers, and local leaders to begin thinking about the conversations they need to have in their community to effectively return to school this fall,” says John Sarrouf, co-Executive Director of Essential Partners. “What’s unresolved? What are the points of tension? This guide will help navigate some of these tough conversations and serve as a jumping-off point for reflection and preparation.”


The three dialogues outlined in the guide address three of the major questions that school communities will face this fall:

  • What should in-person learning look like?
  • What did we do well in the pandemic and what do we need for our community to heal?
  • What did we lose during the crisis, what did we learn, and where will it lead?

This new guide is the product of a months-long collaboration between Essential Partners and the Mount Holyoke College Teacher Leadership program. Together they convened two small group dialogues, each comprising educators, parents, and school leaders, to test and refine the content of this guide.

“During the period of school closure, I found myself opting to not engage in conversations related to school closure in order to preserve emotional energy,” said one parent. “It felt like a positive experience to engage in these conversations in a setting with a structured format.”

Marguerite Rancourt, a Franklin County educator, was moved by the experiences shared by her peers. “I am still processing the heartfelt sharing about the impact the pandemic has had on educators’ families and their relationships,” she said. “It was the first time I had heard these thoughts and it gave me great pause. As I reflect, I realize how much this pandemic has impacted people’s lives. There is a lot of healing to do. I hope as we move forward there are opportunities like this dialogue to address the challenges that face us professionally and personally.”

The Guide to Conversations About Education After COVID is now available to download for free from the Essential Partners website.


Founded in 1989, Essential Partners is a 501c3 nonprofit that equips people to live and work better together in community by building trust and understanding across differences. Envisioning a world of thriving communities strengthened by difference and connected by trust, EP advances its mission through open enrollment trainings, long-term community and institutional partnerships, as well as free public programming and resources. For more information about EP and its mission, visit:

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SOURCE Essential Partners