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Return to School Planning

“I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” - Eisenhower

Schools will reopen, and there is no option to return to “business as usual.” Based on the requirements shared at the federal, state, and local levels, districts and schools may be asked to rethink everything from physical space to learning structures to systems of inequity.

Through a series of sprints, we help you to build an inclusive and responsive plan to prepare for multiple likely scenarios:

  • We start first by getting comfortable with, and distinguishing between, what we know (facts), what we’re expecting (assumptions), and what we think (opinions) will help as we plan in the midst of uncertainty. 
  • We will guide you as you develop three common scenarios to start planning for based on the set of knowns and unknowns specific to your context. The goal is not a perfect plan, but rather to uncover differences in an atypical school year.
  •  We help you to notice trends or topics that need to be addressed in most or all of the possible scenarios. These “big rocks” represent key processes and areas to tackle, redesign, and create for the next school year and will require a prioritization activity to identify what to implement first.
  • We guide you as you communicate and involve individuals in this work; recognizing the impacts that swift change may have and involving impacted and knowledgeable stakeholders in the problem-solving process either by communicating or asking for feedback.
Building for multiple sprints

How our partner districts are approaching Return Planning


Return to School Planning Resources

This collection of resources is a great place to start to exploring returning to, reimagining, and revamping schools. Reference free guides, on-demand webinars, and district stories.

Learn More

How we can help you

We offer multiple support options for return planning:
Return Planning - Coaching Return Planning - One Sprint Sprints Return Planning - Multiple Sprints        
Reach out to talk with us about how we might support you and your teams.

Our approach to strategic planning

  • Allow for flexibility and adaptability so our planning serves us rather than limits us
  • The preparation of rapid multiple scenario simulations will quickly uncover the operational, financial, and personnel implications
  • Transparent prioritization
  • The process (and how we involve stakeholders) is as important as the plan
  • Return planning is an opportunity to re-examine entrenched systems of inequity and re-design for all students
Returning Reimagining Revamping

Your district strategy will be stronger if you work with the right partner

Though districts made significant instructional shifts this past spring, it was done very quickly. As we prepare for return to school in the fall, we must prepare for multiple possibilities that align with our values and are both sensitive to the needs of the community as well as responsive to the changing guidelines from government agencies and health of our stakeholders. Whether you have started your planning, or need additional coaching, Education Elements can help you develop an actionable district return plan that lasts not just through the start of the school year, but allows you to adjust through the course of the year, build capacity for learning continuity whatever the circumstance, and reimagine what is possible.


Our clients work with us, and refer us to others, for three key reasons:

  1. We are expert facilitators, who engage diverse groups and bring in processes and protocols that drive collaboration, alignment, and action.
  2. We customize our approach based on your unique needs, taking time to learn your context. We never bring in a one-size-fits-all solution.
  3. We leverage our expertise, research, and relationships in working with you. We can bring our knowledge of what is working for other districts and other states directly to you.

Learn More About How We Work With You to Develop Your District's Return Plan