Coronavirus and Education

Overview

Coronavirus and Education
How schools and colleges are responding to COVID-19

The rapid spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — which the World Health Organization has declared a global pandemic — has big implications for P-12 and higher education in the United States. Education journalists around the country are playing a vital role in helping communities understand the situation, from school closures to plans for remote learning and making sure high-need students maintain access to wraparound services like health care and meals.

Education Week is tracking state-level K-12 school closures, which includes the closure of both the buildings and in-person instruction. 

While the response to the health crisis is fluid, it’s clear that educators will have to rethink teaching methods. Challenges include adopting new methods of digital learning and instruction if bricks-and-mortar classrooms remain closed for an extended period, as well as helping families struggling with child care issues or mandated quarantines.

The rapid spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — which the World Health Organization has declared a global pandemic — has big implications for P-12 and higher education in the United States. Education journalists around the country are playing a vital role in helping communities understand the situation, from school closures to plans for remote learning and making sure high-need students maintain access to wraparound services like health care and meals.

Education Week is tracking state-level K-12 school closures, which includes the closure of both the buildings and in-person instruction. 

While the response to the health crisis is fluid, it’s clear that educators will have to rethink teaching methods. Challenges include adopting new methods of digital learning and instruction if bricks-and-mortar classrooms remain closed for an extended period, as well as helping families struggling with child care issues or mandated quarantines.

Highlight

Word on the Beat: Remote Learning

As communities nationwide grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, educators are struggling to provide young people with meaningful opportunities to continue learning even with most public schools now closed. In this installment of Word on the Beat, we look at how digital tools are being put into quick action for K-12 education — and how that’s creating both opportunities and challenges for teachers, students, and families.

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Five Tips for Education Reporters Covering the Coronavirus

Keep Calm and Report On

In any health crisis, the news media is a critical source of information for the public. Education reporters can, and should, play a key role in their newsroom coverage, given that schools are a significant factor in efforts to contain and limit the existing outbreak of the coronavirus.

Latest News

Big Ideas for Education’s Urgent Challenges

Welcome to the start of a new school year and the 2021 edition of our Big Ideas report.

While returning children to school buildings safely and making the year as normal as possible is driving you and your work, we understand how much more complex your job has become.

The cover of this year’s report and the 10 essays inside reflect this complicated moment and the constellation of emotions we know you’re experiencing: hope, excitement, grief, urgency, trepidation, and determination.

Latest News

Education Department Investigating Mask Mandate Bans in Five States

The Education Department on Monday announced investigations into five states that have imposed policies prohibiting schools from imposing mask mandates.

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights said Monday it sent letters to the chief state school officers of Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennesse and Utah informing them of the investigation into whether the policies discriminate against students with disabilities and health vulnerabilities who face a heightened risk of COVID-19 infection.

Latest News

For Some College Students, Remote Learning Is a Game Changer

Although many college students have struggled with remote learning over the last year, some with disabilities found it to be a lifeline. As the fall semester approaches, those students are pushing for remote accommodations to continue, even as in-person classes resume.

Online Learning Will Continue This Fall. What Do Reporters Need to Know?
Webinar

Online Learning Will Continue This Fall. What Do Reporters Need to Know?

Although school districts nationwide are expected to offer full-time, in-person instruction during the 2021-22 academic year, millions of students are poised to stick with online learning, with the number of virtual options growing. This raises a host of important questions for families, communities, and educators.

Watch the Education Writers Association’s timely webinar on remote learning. Experts identified critical questions education reporters should be asking in their local communities and provided some early answers.

Latest News

Helping Students Learn at Their Own Pace: Why Some Ohio Schools Are Adopting a ‘Mastery’ Approach in Hopes of Closing COVID Learning Gaps

With many students needing academic intervention after the pandemic, school district officials in Columbus and Cleveland, are turning to “mastery” learning as a strategy to catch them up.

The mastery, or “competency” approach lets students learn at their own pace, making sure they fully understand key skills before moving on.

That could be a good fit when students return to school in the fall after making drastically different progress online or in very limited in-person classes.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

With Schools Reopening Full-Time, What Pandemic-Driven Changes Will Last?
Get 7 story ideas to help you cover K-12 and higher education shifts that may have staying power.

Despite the many hardships the pandemic caused, the COVID-19 disruption also sparked – or in some cases accelerated – changes to K-12 and higher education that leaders say should stick.

The speakers pointed to the power of flexibility, the need to focus energy and resources that will serve the “whole student,” and how increased outreach and new communication strategies with students and families could be transformative during a plenary at the Education Writers Association’s 2021 National Seminar. 

Latest News

COVID At School: Boys Fell Behind More Than Girls. Can They Catch Up?

In Chicago and across the country, there is growing evidence that this year has hit Black and Latino boys harder than other students. Amid rising gun violence, a national reckoning over race, bitter school reopening battles and a deadly virus that took the heaviest toll on Black and Latino communities, the year has tested not only these teens, but also the school systems that have historically failed many of them. 

It has severed precarious ties to school, derailed college plans and pried gaping academic disparities even wider. 

Latest News

In Chicago’s Poorest High Schools, 20% Of Grades Were Fs

At the height of the pandemic, even when her school discouraged it, Chicago public high school teacher Anna Lane traveled to her students’ homes to stand on porches and listen to their struggles. Using money she helped raise through a mutual aid fund, she often brought groceries or cash assistance so their families could pay their bills.

Latest News

Pandemic Saps College Enrollment, Counselors Fight Back

Thousands of California high school graduates didn’t go to college last year due to the pandemic. The drop, which mostly affected community colleges, might be temporary, but it showed the need to provide more support for students going from high school to college. A new counseling program in Riverside County aims to do just that.

Read the full story here. 

Latest News

Pandemic Saps College Enrollment, Counselors Fight Back

Thousands of California high school graduates didn’t go to college last year due to the pandemic. The drop, which mostly affected community colleges, might be temporary, but it showed the need to provide more support for students going from high school to college. A new counseling program in Riverside County aims to do just that.

Read the full story here. 

Latest News

Pandemic Saps College Enrollment, Counselors Fight Back

Thousands of California high school graduates didn’t go to college last year due to the pandemic. The drop, which mostly affected community colleges, might be temporary, but it showed the need to provide more support for students going from high school to college. A new counseling program in Riverside County aims to do just that.

Read the full story here. 

Will the Pandemic Propel ‘Competency-Based’ Education Into the Mainstream?
Webinar

Will the Pandemic Propel ‘Competency-Based’ Education Into the Mainstream?
Instructional model replaces 'seat-time' requirements with focus on mastery of content, skills

The pandemic forced schools to switch from in-person to remote learning nearly overnight, raising questions about the relevance of “seat time” as a standard measure for earning course credit. Now, as schools move into education recovery mode, an alternative model known as competency-based learning is getting a fresh look and is expected to see more widespread adoption.

Participants
Multimedia

How Schools (and Reporters) Can Better Connect With Parents
'Talk to us,' parent organizers urge

The grand experiment with remote instruction in the pandemic hasn’t just impacted teachers and students. It has also changed the relationship of parents to their children’s learning, and provided a firsthand look at the virtual classroom experience.

During a May 4 session at the Education Writers Association’s 2021 National Seminar, parent advocates and researchers explored how the role of families in education may shift, and ways schools and others can support the change. 

How Schools (and Reporters) Can Better Connect With Parents

Click here to download the transcript of the 2021 family engagement session

The participants were: 

  • Sarah Carpenter, Memphis Lift
  • Keri Rodrigues, National Parents Union
  • Vidya Sundaram, Family Engagement Lab
  • Rebecca Winthrop, Center for Universal Education
  • Katherine Lewis, independent journalist (Moderator)
Are ‘Merit’-based Education Admissions Practices Racist?
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Are ‘Merit’-based Education Admissions Practices Racist?
Experts outline problems with - and efforts to improve - use of SAT scores, affirmative action, school lotteries.

It is one of the thorniest topics in education: What criteria should be used to fairly determine which students are admitted to America’s “elite” public schools, colleges and universities? 

Many top schools have faced criticism in recent decades for not reflecting the nation’s racial and socioeconomic diversity.

Member Stories

#tellEWA Member Stories (Apr. 2-8)
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week:

More school districts are turning to digital surveillance to keep tabs on students during remote learning. That has some families, educators, and privacy experts concerned, reports Education Week’s Stephen Sawchuk. 

Emily Tate of EdSurge explains why some guidance counselors are taking steps to address their implicit biases, and how that could improve services for students going forward. 

Key Coverage

Out of School, Out of Work

In 2017, as many as 4.5 million young people—or 11.5 percent of young adults ages 16 to 24—were neither in school nor working, according to the nonprofit Measure of America. By the summer of 2020, the organization estimated, the ranks of these “disconnected” young adults had swelled to 6 million.

Read the full story here