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.

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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.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Covering Parent Activism and Engagement? Go Beyond Critical Race Theory
‘Sexy headlines’ about the latest education controversy often grab attention. Learn why reporters shouldn’t limit their coverage. Plus, get research and the history of parent engagement in education.

A new generation of parent activists has arrived, and its members are far more concerned with “ballot boxes, legislative agendas and school district policy priorities than bake sales,” according to a new report from the public policy think tank FutureEd.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Does Money Matter? How Education Spending Affects Student Outcomes
What reporters should closely watch amid school spending initiatives and discussions

With school districts across the country seeing an unprecedented influx of federal aid to fuel the education recovery, the question remains of what impact these extra dollars will ultimately have on students.

School finance expert Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach of Northwestern University sees ample scholarly evidence that spending more improves outcomes for K-12 students.

Latest News

Homeschooling Surge Continues Despite Schools Reopening

The coronavirus pandemic ushered in what may be the most rapid rise in homeschooling the U.S. has ever seen. Two years later, even after schools reopened and vaccines became widely available, many parents have chosen to continue directing their children’s educations themselves.

Homeschooling numbers this year dipped from last year’s all-time high, but are still significantly above pre-pandemic levels, according to data obtained and analyzed by The Associated Press.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Education Labs: The Past, Present and Future of Grant-Funded Journalism Units
“Community-funded journalism is not a silver bullet, but it’s potential support that can help you cover important service journalism.”

Some hope is rising amid the financial destruction that has decimated the newsrooms of local for-profit newspapers. At least five legacy news outlets have expanded their education coverage by raising grant funding in the last several years. 

Of course, nonprofit news organizations are nothing new, considering The Associated Press is a 176-year-old cooperative. But these new projects are creating unusual hybrids: grant-funded reporting teams within traditional for-profit companies. 

Latest News

School Counselors and Psychologists Remain Scarce Even as Needs Rise

Pine Grove Area High School, located in a small town in eastern Pennsylvania by the same name, closed its school building for the pandemic on Friday the 13th back in March 2020. In the nearly two years since, the social isolation, followed by the carousel of a hybrid schedule and the jolt of returning fully to school in person, has been hard on students’ mental health.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Martin Luther King Jr. Said, ‘Education is a Battleground.’ Reflecting on His Words
King’s remarks on education continue to be relevant in 21st century America.

When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. accepted the John Dewey Award from the United Federation of Teachers in 1964, he spoke of education being a battleground in the freedom struggle.

“It was not fortuitous that education became embroiled in this conflict,” King said. “Education is one of the vital tools the Negro needs in order to advance. And yet it has been denied him by devises of segregation and manipulations with quality.”

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EWA Radio

New Year, New Higher Ed Stories
From continued COVID-19 fallout to federal higher ed policy shifts, it’s a big year ahead for colleges and universities (EWA Radio Episode 284)

This will be a momentous year for higher education – as colleges attempt to recover from COVID shutdowns, student loan bills come due again, and big changes come to admissions offices. What will college look like this year? How are institutions planning to spend billions of dollars in federal COVID-19 relief funds? And how bad a hit are overall enrollment numbers going to take in the third year of the pandemic?

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

How to Put the HBCU Story in Context
Journalists share strategies for reporting on the chronic underfunding of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

If the disparity in underfunding Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) could be told through two schools, consider Texas Southern University (TSU) and the University of Houston (UH). Both started around the same time with similar missions, serving populations with similar economic backgrounds. The colleges were even located across the street from each other.

EWA Radio

What Happened to $190 Billion in School COVID-19 Funds? 
New investigation raises questions on spending priorities of local districts  and whether states are prepared to effectively track the federal aid (EWA Radio Episode 280)

Reporter Annie Waldman and Reporting Fellow Bianca Fortis dug into the data from 16,000 provisional reports from state agencies and determined half the money was spent on programs, services or goods categorized as “other,” meaning no specifics are readily available.

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Seminar

75th EWA National Seminar
Orlando • July 24-26, 2022

Celebrating 75 Years! 

As those in education and journalism work to recover from an extended pandemic, bringing together the community has never been more critical. The Education Writers Association’s 75th annual National Seminar will provide a long-awaited opportunity to gather in person for three days of training, networking, and inspiration. 

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EWA Radio

The Real Story Behind Teacher Shortages
How the pandemic is impacting districts already short on highly qualified teachers, and could slow efforts to spend federal pandemic relief dollars earmarked for student programs and services (EWA Radio Episode 278)

Across the country, school districts are grappling with staffing shortages that are making it tough to recover from the disruptions of the COVD-19 pandemic. Matt Barnum, a national reporter at Chalkbeat…

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.

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. 

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.