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A message from our director: REL Southwest’s COVID-19 response

The profile photo of director Michael Vaden-Kiernan, Ph.D., with a message saying 'We want to hear from you about how we can engage more actively and relevantly with the challenges that we are facing all together.'

By Michael Vaden-Kiernan, Ph.D. | Apr. 1, 2020

Dear colleagues and friends,

I want to reach out to let you know that in these challenging times, REL Southwest continues to be hard at work on our mission to meaningfully improve outcomes for all learners. Like you, we are deeply concerned about the health and safety of communities, schools, teachers, students, and families not only in our region but across the nation. Although our physical offices are temporarily closed, the REL Southwest team continues to work remotely and collaboratively with one another and our partners and stakeholders at the state and local levels.

We have been listening to our partners and have started to develop a series of supports to respond to their evolving needs. For example, we heard from our Oklahoma partnership working to strengthen the state’s early childhood education that the greatest need right now is to provide districts, teachers, students, and families with resources for providing high-quality online and e-learning environments for grades preK–2. In response, we are working with experts here at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to pull together a set of evidence-based resources that will provide supports to our state education agency partners and their schools across Oklahoma.

REL Southwest is also sharing resources from across the REL network through our social media outlets, and below we have listed some of these resources that may be useful. In this way, we are very focused on the fact that in the face of such an overwhelming crisis, we will be stronger together, and we are working with other RELs, the regional comprehensive centers, and other federal, state, and local entities to provide needed supports to our five-state region. In addition, we remain focused on the particular areas of greatest need in our region, such as American Indian students, English learner students, students with special needs, and students in rural areas where resources may be difficult to access, while remaining aware of and addressing the equity issues this situation is exacerbating.

We feel strongly, however, that our most important role in the short term is to listen and better understand what stakeholders and communities across the region are experiencing and needing. We want to hear from you about how we can engage more actively and relevantly with the challenges that we are all facing together.

So stay tuned as we plan to provide a number of new resources such as webinars or web-based resources to better support our region during this uncertain and rapidly changing time. And please reach out to me and the REL Southwest team to let us know your pressing questions.

As always, stay safe and well.


Resources from the REL Program, the Institute of Education Sciences, and AIR:

This work was funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) under contract 91990018C0002, administered by the American Institutes for Research. The content of this blog post does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.

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Michael Vaden-Kiernan profile photo

Michael Vaden-Kiernan, Ph.D.

Director | REL Southwest