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It has been precisely one year since the World Health Organization declared a pandemic around Covid-19. In that time every possible aspect of our daily lives have been put to the test. The educational system has been dramatically overturned and impacted. It would be hard to argue there is a more important part of how we live, work and play than our education systems. 

“The best ideas we’ve had during the pandemic have, no doubt, come from the teachers in the classrooms.”

Dr. David O'Rourke

District Superintendent & CEO Erie2 BOCES

Children (and thus parents, teachers, officials etc) have seen every part of their schooling upended by the breadth of risks associated with the Corona virus, from the morning bus ride to the afternoon sports practice. All of these risks, many of them new and unanticipated by school officials, required attention and resolution and there was little time to plan.

High Reliability Organizing #HRO is a two-sided solution. In the normal course of business HRO principles are vital to recognizing and acting to minimizing mistakes that can turn into a crisis.  When a crisis arrives unannounced and unanticipated, like Covid-19, HRO principles guide the initial reaction, and subsequent actions and activities. Dr. David O’Rourke and his team’s mindful approach unconsciously utilized many aspects of HRO. This approach led to higher levels of in-class learning much earlier, and much more safely, than in other districts.

In this episode Dr. O’Rourke provides insight into a school district’s actions and reactions at the start of the pandemic, the lessons and tactics learned during the long summer and winter, and some hope for what the pandemic means for the future of education.

Sources and copy rights

Cover Image ShutterStock Regular License


Erie2 BOCES © 2021

CNN © 2021

Washington Post © 2021