Schools are still struggling with distance learning; the spring scramble during the lockdown was a necessary stopgap but wasn’t nearly good enough; keeping schools open is essential do keep the economy going. Transitioning from a life’s experience of teaching in person to virtual instruction can be agonizing.

The solution may lie in a hybrid model, but the juri is still out on the balance between presential classroom and online time, between live online instruction and independent work, and between independent online or offline work (e.g. pen and paper, reading…).

And socioeconomical background and parental support do make a difference. These are some of the key elements arising from a conversation between Jimmy Sarakatsannis, Partner and co-leader of McKinsey’s North American Education Group, and Diane Brady, Senior Editor, in a recent McKinsey’s podcast on the challenges faced by school systems as they move into an unprecedented school year, with Covid-19 never seeming to relent.

Topics like the safety of students, staff and indeed the whole community, special education needs and several others are also addressed. You can listen to the 29:26 minutes podcast (or download it) and read an edited transcript of the conversation in