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

Health Directors Told to Keep Quiet as Fla. Leaders Pressed to Reopen Classrooms

As Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed this summer for schools to reopen, state leaders told school boards they would need Health Department approval if they wanted to keep classrooms closed.

Then they instructed health directors not to give it.

Following a directive from DeSantis’ administration, county health directors across Florida refused to give school boards advice about one of the most wrenching public health decisions in modern history: whether to reopen schools in a worsening pandemic, a Gannett USA TODAY NETWORK review found.

Latest News

TikTok Helped Teachers and Students Stay Connected During the Pandemic. Now Trump Wants to Ban It

When schools closed in March because of the coronavirus, Vanessa Cronin had no idea how to make instructions for her Spanish lessons engaging enough for her students to read.

“So now I’m supposed to type my instructions in an email?” Cronin, who teaches at Marine Science Magnet High School in Groton, Connecticut, asked herself. “I could picture my kids at home saying things like, ‘Too long. Too boring. I won’t read this.’”

Latest News

Congress’s Ideological Divide Has Stymied Aid for Pandemic-Stricken Schools

Republicans and Democrats in Congress say they agree that a new stimulus package must include billions of dollars to help schools struggling financially and logistically to resume education this month and next.

But the parties are digging in over profound ideological differences, especially the divide between Democratic demands for public education spending and a Republican push to channel federal dollars into vouchers that families could use at private schools willing to open for in-person classes.

Latest News

Poll Finds Parents, Fearing Covid, Prefer Mix Of Online And In-Person School

Most American parents think it’s unsafe to send their children back to school given the risks of the novel coronavirus, and more than 80 percent favor holding school at least partly online, according to a Washington Post-Schar School survey conducted by Ipsos.

But parents also express serious concerns with online schooling and many are drawn to systems that mix the two.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

What Will ‘Back to Campus’ Mean? Analyzing Universities’ Plans for Reopening This Fall
While many schools are online-only, those returning in person get tough

Want to return to a college campus this fall? You’ll have to strictly follow tough rules. Fail to wear a mask or follow other strict safety requirements at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C., and “you will be excised from the community. You will be voted off the island,” warned President Roslyn Artis.

Webinar

But Is It Safe to Open Schools? Public Health Experts Weigh In

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown American education into turmoil. Questions abound on the safety of operating schools and colleges in person this fall (or later on), and the trade-offs for children and young people told to stay home.

Two public health experts will address a host of tough issues, and field your questions, during this EWA webinar on Wednesday, August 12, at 1 p.m. Eastern time.

Latest News

Georgia School Reopening Photo Worse Than It Appears

Behind a viral photo of a crowded hallway at a high school in Georgia, a potentially dire situation is brewing. Students, teachers, and parents fear the Paulding County school’s rushed reopening plans may be spiraling out of control just two days after students — who said they were told they could face expulsion for remaining home — returned to class despite reports of positive coronavirus cases among students and staff.

Latest News

California’s Poorest Preschoolers Are Stuck At Home

For decades, experts have understood 4 as an academic fault line, the year that cleaves wealthy and even middle-class children from their poor and working-class peers. Yet amid the pandemic, public preschools such as Darlene’s have struggled to reopen, despite being classed as essential. When they do open — probably weeks or months after most private preschools — as many as two-thirds of classroom spots for 4-year-olds could be gone.

Latest News

Virginia Waives School Accreditation For Second School Year

The closure of schools this past spring because of the pandemic means that Virginia schools will keep their same accreditation until at least 2022.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane waived the process for the 2021-2022 academic year on Tuesday, citing the lack of standardized tests from the spring that would’ve been part of the ratings.

The General Assembly in April gave Lane temporary flexibility to waive some requirements, including school accreditation, that could be impacted by school closures during the coronavirus pandemic.

Latest News

Tech Woes Mar Start to Virtual Class for Nashville Public School Students

The first day of school for thousands of Nashville families started off rocky Tuesday with many experiencing technology and connectivity issues as they tried to log on for virtual learning.

Some students and families were able to get online to join live classroom meetings or check in with their teachers on personal devices for the first day, but some of those dependent on devices provided by the district were left in the dark.

DeVos’ Top Deputy: COVID-19 ‘Underscores’ Need for School Choice
Blog: The Educated Reporter

DeVos’ Top Deputy: COVID-19 ‘Underscores’ Need for School Choice
US assistant education secretary James Blew also addresses testing waivers

If anything, the global pandemic has deepened U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s commitment to all forms of school choice, top deputy James Blew told reporters in a keynote question-and-answer session at the Education Writers Association’s 73rd National Seminar, held remotely in late July.

Latest News

OPINION: An Arizona Superintendent on Safely Reopening Schools: ‘It’s a Fantasy’

This is my choice, but I’m starting to wish that it wasn’t. I don’t feel qualified. I’ve been a superintendent for 20 years, so I guess I should be used to making decisions, but I keep getting lost in my head. I’ll be in my office looking at a blank computer screen, and then all of the sudden I realize a whole hour’s gone by. I’m worried. I’m worried about everything. Each possibility I come up with is a bad one.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Educating During COVID: Superintendents and College Leaders Scramble to Fill Students’ New Needs
Solutions include more financial aid, free headphones and traffic light wifi hotspots.

Pedro Martinez, the superintendent of the San Antonio Independent School District, oversees the education of almost 50,000 students. Ninety percent live in poverty, he said, and half of the families in the district make less than $35,000 a year. Martinez described educating students, kindergarten through high school, who live in cramped homes without computers or internet connections since the pandemic hit in March. 

Latest News

Survey Reveals Stark Rich-Poor Divide In How U.S. Children Were Taught Remotely During The Spring School Closures

As the coronavirus pandemic spread through the country, a common (socially distanced) conversation among friends and families compared how many hours of remote learning kids were getting. Preliminary results from a new survey of school districts confirm what many parents learned through the Zoom grapevine. The number of hours your kids got varied wildly depending on where you happen to live. But the amount of time was not the only difference, according to a recent survey: the type of instruction students received also diverged dramatically.

Latest News

Greater Clark County Schools To Resume In-Person Classes

Greater Clark County Schools plans to resume in-person classes on Wednesday, making it the first southern Indiana public school district to do so.

The district said it worked with Dr. Eric Yazel and the Clark County Health Department to create a plan that prioritizes the safety of students and staff.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

US Rep. Bobby Scott: ‘If You Can’t Open Schools Safely, Don’t’
Congressman details schools' planning, funding, and Republican discord during EWA interview

If schools can be opened safely, then do it. “If you can’t do it safely, you shouldn’t do it at all.” That’s the view of the Democratic congressman with the most clout in federal education policy.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, dismissed recent CDC guidelines that emphasize the importance of reopening schools in a Friday, July 24 webinar at the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar.