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.

Highlight

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

Research Finds Few Links Between Schools And COVID Cases

Despite widespread concerns, two new international studies show no consistent relationship between in-person K-12 schooling and the spread of coronavirus. And a third study from the United States shows no elevated risk to childcare workers who stayed on the job.

Combined with anecdotal reports from a number of U.S. states where schools are open, as well as a crowdsourced dashboard of around 2000 U.S. schools, some medical experts are saying it’s time to shift the discussion from the risks of opening K-12 schools to the risks of keeping them closed.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

COVID-19 Disruptions Raise Questions on Future of Testing, Accountability

One of former boxer Mike Tyson’s most famous maxims is that everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.

In the 2019-20 academic year, standardized testing — and just about every other aspect of school — is “getting punched in the face by COVID,” said Scott Marion, the executive director of the Center for Assessment, invoking the heavyweight champion at a panel on testing and accountability during the Education Writers Association’s 2020 National Seminar.

Latest News

Why Did Colleges Reopen During the Pandemic?

American colleges botched the pandemic from the very start. Caught off guard in the spring, most of them sent everyone home in a panic, in some cases evicting students who had nowhere else to go. School leaders hemmed and hawed all summer about what to do next and how to do it.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Pandemic-Driven Disparities Seen in After-School Programs
As coronavirus wears on, what role will out-of-school providers play in meeting community needs?

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a disproportionate toll on the education of low-income students and people of color. Stories abound on the situation, especially when it comes to remote instruction and plans for school re-opening. But even after the school day ends, the disparities persist.

Latest News

Counting Sheep: New Math in Richmond

For years, students in Richmond Public Schools have scored among the lowest in Virginia on state math exams. The district recently adopted a new math curriculum, “Eureka Math,” in an effort to turn those scores around. 

Latest News

Opening Schools and Other Hard Decisions

Emily Oster is a professor of economics at Brown University. She’s also known for her data-driven approach to parenting, which she’s outlined in her two books, Expecting Better and Cribsheet. Earlier this year, Oster brought her parenting approach to an email newsletter that was supposed to cover everything from baby carriers to allergies.

But when the coronavirus upended everything, Oster started writing about making decisions during this time of uncertainty. Like: is it safe for kids to see their grandparents?

Latest News

As Some Disney Workers Lose Their Jobs, Their Free College Education Vanishes, Too

Madeline “Madi” Portes keeps a bucket list full of things like visiting Paris and taking violin lessons. But No. 1 was always to get her college degree, and she never forgot that as the years went by.

Portes, of Clermont, failed several times to finish her schooling, coming from poor roots and unable to afford her classes as a working adult. Maybe this was her shot at age 61 to finally get it done when Walt Disney Co. announced in 2018 it would pay tuition upfront — and books, too — for its hourly employees.

Latest News

Illinois ‘Higher Ed Is Facing A Cliff’

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, public university cupboards were already pretty bare.

Two decades of declining state appropriations and repeated financial crisis left schools struggling. The two-year state budget impasse that ended in 2017, when schools limped by with limited state funding, nearly did some schools in.

And now, the pandemic.

Latest News

University of South Florida closing College of Education

Faculty at the University of South Florida learned Wednesday that the university will be eliminating its College of Education, a program that had once been the fifth largest college of education in the country. 

The school plans to phase out its bachelor’s of education degree over the next few years, as the current students enrolled in the program finish. The master’s program will be shifted into another college, and the university will close the door on its College of Education.

Latest News

SUNY Oneonta President Resigns After 700 Students Test Positive for Coronavirus

The State University of New York at Oneonta on Thursday announced the abrupt resignation of its president only weeks after it experienced the most severe coronavirus outbreak of any public university in the state.

The departure of the president, Barbara Jean Morris, is one of the most high-profile over the coronavirus crisis, which has thrown many colleges and universities across the country into turmoil as they try to maintain some semblance of campus life during the outbreak.

Latest News

Kindergarten Enrollment Plummets In Wisconsin Amid Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a significant toll on school enrollment in Wisconsin – especially in the youngest grades.

Public schools experienced an about 3% decline in student numbers this fall – compared to less than 1% decline last year. The biggest drop is in 4-year-old kindergarten. 4K numbers fell by about 16% this fall. Regular kindergarten enrollment fell by about 5%.

Read the full story here. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How to Get Voters to Care About School Board Elections
School board races are even more crucial during the pandemic

School board races typically get short shrift in election coverage. On ballots, they’re often relegated to the last pages, along with district court judges and densely worded ballot measures.

But school board members play a key leadership and oversight role in local public schools. During the pandemic, that includes an important new responsibility: largely deciding whether (and when) shuttered campuses will reopen, as well as setting the parameters for remote or hybrid learning.

Webinar

Student Privacy in the Era of Remote Learning

As schools scrambled to create remote learning plans and adjust to the new online reality, parents worried about the increased access to their children’s online data. An early summer survey of approximately 1,200 parents by the Center for Democracy and Technology found widespread worries about children’s online safety and privacy. But only 43 percent of parents said someone at their school had discussed student privacy with them. 

Latest News

‘Right Now, All Students are Mobile’: New Pandemic Data Confirms a ‘Massive Event’ Disrupting School Enrollment

The Greenville County Schools in South Carolina was expecting enrollment to increase by about 1,000 students this fall, continuing a recent pattern driven by affordable home prices and accolades for “livability.” But instead of hitting the estimate of 78,000 students, officials are predicting a precipitous drop to about 74,000.

photo of Elissa Nadworny on location
EWA Radio

On the Road With NPR’s Higher Ed Reporter
A nationwide road trip yields insights, first-person accounts of postsecondary life in the coronavirus era
(EWA Radio: Episode 250)

Who takes a cross-country reporting road trip in the midst of a pandemic? NPR’s Elissa Nadworny decided it was the only way to find out for herself what life is really like on college campuses these days, and how students, faculty and administrators are dealing with a new world of logistical challenges.

Latest News

Latino Immigrant Parents Struggle to Find Help With Distance Learning

Three weeks into the academic year, Veronica Macario’s 10-year-old son had yet to attend class at Manzanita Community School. He had a laptop from the school. He’d received directions on how to log into classes. “But since he doesn’t understand English,” Macario explained in Spanish, “he didn’t understand anything.”