Pearson Responds to Secretary of Education's Call for 'Continuity of Learning' in Event of H1N1 Outbreak

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Multi-tiered Response to Help Avoid Disruption of Student Education During Absences

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As announced by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today, the education and technology company Pearson has developed a "Continuity of Learning" plan to continue students' education if school attendance is disrupted due to the H1N1 virus or other crisis events.

Secretary Duncan acknowledged representatives from Pearson, Apple, Microsoft, Curriki, Scholastic and the International Association of K12 Online Learning attending the press conference, all cited as partners in the Department of Education's Continuity for Learning initiative.

Secretary Duncan said, "We know that some students may be affected by H1N1. And our top priority is making sure that they have a way to get well, stay well and to keep learning. With these recommendations, we're providing a menu of strategies for educators to help ensure that the learning process will continue."

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius attended the press conference and noted, "Everyone's goal should be to keep children healthy and in school. But if they get sick -- and some will -- we have to make sure that they don't fall behind." District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty and District of Columbia Chancellor of Public Schools Michelle Rhee also attended the conference.

Following Secretary Duncan's remarks, Pearson's president for School Solutions Scott Drossos explained the company's services that will support the Department of Education's H1N1 initiative, "Pearson, with widespread use of its research-based educational content, systems and services, and technology in U.S. schools, is committing exceptional resources to maintain continuity of learning in the event of an outbreak of H1N1 or a natural catastrophe that compromises access to schools and onsite learning." He added, "Our established relationships with school leaders and teachers nationwide, coupled with our standards-based curriculum programs, comprehensive systems integration infrastructure, digital solutions and technology capabilities, plus our team of experts together provide Pearson a unique ability to help students, teachers and parents should a crisis occur."

Drossos noted that the plan outline that Pearson has provided to the Department of Education to maintain continuity of learning is multi-tiered, with emergency responses aligned to the severity of the outbreak, as well as an assessment of schools' foundational use of Pearson core curricula, supplemental activities, and special needs support.

As an overlay, the plan gives consideration to the time needed for deployment of exceptional resources for existing customers, for those that are not current Pearson customers, as well as for a scenario that is clearly catastrophic necessitating the immediate closure of entire districts. Proposed solutions address schools that have high technology use, minimum technology capability, or no existing technology infrastructure.

Additional components of the plan include the following:

  • Pearson's communication resources will mobilize through web site access for educators, parents, and students and link to the Department of Education's crisis management site.
  • FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) will be posted on the site and education leaders will have access to a communication toolkit that will offer templates for outreach notices to the community and adaptable statements for the local media.
  • Pearson's National Network of Call Centers will provide professional development support, as well as serve as a communication link should individuals not be able to access the web site.

Drossos said, "All of us at Pearson consider our responsibility to schools, teachers, students and parents a public trust. Should there be a pandemic situation, we will work collaboratively with all of our partners across the U.S., and mobilize our Pearson resources to make sure we do all we can to avoid significant disruption of education for our children."

Pearson's response plan will bring together its teams of experts in Curriculum Development, Instruction, Technology, Assessment and Data Systems, and Professional Development nationwide. Drossos said, "These are accomplished problem solvers, schooled in best practices, who stand ready to think with integrity beyond traditional constraints to craft a solution strategy for immediate deployment."

Through its Pearson Foundation, Pearson has a history of assisting in providing large-scale disaster help to schools and communities, most notably in recent years through its ongoing response to Hurricane Katrina victims, to other hurricane disasters affecting the Southeast and Gulf Coast and to victims of the Iowa floods. Globally, Pearson has provided support to victims of the devastating hurricanes in Myanmar, the earthquakes in Northern China, Pakistan and India, as well as the South Asian tsunami.

About Pearson
Pearson (NYSE:PSO), the global leader in education and education technology and services, provides innovative print and digital education materials for preK through college, student information systems and learning management systems, teacher professional development, career certification programs, and testing and assessment products that set the standard for the industry. Pearson's other primary businesses include the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group. For more information about Pearson School, go to http://www.pearsonschool.com.

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Kate Miller
Pearson
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