Coronavirus and Education
Updated March 20
Forty-five states have decided to close schools in response to the new coronavirus pandemic, Education Week reports. The newspaper says at least at least 118,000 public and private schools are closed, are scheduled to close, or were closed and later reopened, affecting at least 53.7 million students.
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.
WASHINGTON — Borrowers with federal student loans will be able to pause their payments for two months without interest accruing, President Donald Trump and the Education Department said Friday.
The move is an effort to help those financially affected by the spread of the coronavirus. Trump had announced last week the government would waive interest on federally held loans last week, but few details had been available. The suspension will be in effect for at least 60 days, and it started on March 13.
There’s rising doubt among school leaders that their students will return to school this spring.
Most schools in the St. Louis area are closed through April 3, for now, to help contain the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. That date is starting to feel like just a placeholder for a more sustained closure.
A majority of states have ordered their schools closed as the nation rushes to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, hoping to blunt its potential to overwhelm medical resources.
It can be difficult to visualize the sheer scale of this wave, affecting tens of thousands of schools and tens of millions of students.
Schools will not have to administer federally required tests this year, President Trump and the U.S. Department of Education announced Friday — an unprecedented but unsurprising move in the wake of widespread school closures due to the new coronavirus.
“Students need to be focused on staying healthy and continuing to learn. Teachers need to be able to focus on remote learning and other adaptations,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement. “Neither students nor teachers need to be focused on high-stakes tests during this difficult time.”
North Carolina school districts are finding ways to pay employees while schools are closed this month, but employees are worried about how long that will last with the closures expected to continue.
The State Board of Education and state Department of Public Instruction told school districts to consider the weekdays that schools are closed through March 30 to be teacher workdays. This means salaried employees like teachers will continue to be paid and hourly employees will get paid if they work.
For international students studying at U.S. universities that suspended in-person classes, the last week has not been easy.
The Department of Homeland Security has confirmed that international students can take classes online without it adversely affecting their visa statuses. But as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced universities to partially close their campuses, many unanswered questions remain.
Angelina Dixon sat in a lounge chair on her front porch shortly before 9:30 a.m. Wednesday sipping steaming coffee and smoking a cigarette.
A 40-foot long yellow school bus pulled up just across the street, a teacher’s aide popped out, hurried over, greeted her warmly and handed her a white, plastic bag. It contained a breakfast pack of a muffin, a box of cereal, a pint of milk and a box juice. It also included a lunch of turkey and cheese cold cuts on a Kaiser roll and chips or Cheez Its crackers.
Oregon schools will not replace the weeks of traditional classroom instruction students are missing with online classes or another substitute while schools are shuttered until April 28.
The reasons why boil down to two words: Access and equity.
The New York State United Teachers union is calling on U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to waive federal state testing requirements this year as schools continue to close in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the span of roughly two weeks, the American higher education system has transformed. Its future is increasingly uncertain.
Most classes are now being held online, often for the rest of the semester. Dorms are emptying across the country. Some universities are even postponing or canceling graduation ceremonies scheduled months out. This is all the more surprising given most universities have a reputation for being reticent to change, especially in a short amount of time.
States Are Begging the Federal Government to Cancel Spring Testing. What Happens If They Get Their Wish?
In the midst of the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic, it has become clear that 2020 will not see a typical round of assessments. Nineteen states, including California, Florida and New York, have either canceled this year’s testing or are asking for federal approval to do so, according to a tracker published by Education Week.
The coronavirus pandemic has turned education upside down in Newark and nationwide, forcing schools to shut their doors and parents to play the role of teachers. But actual teachers, while confined to their homes, are still finding ways to connect virtually with their students, whether through old-fashioned phone calls or more modern tools like Google Classroom and ClassDojo.
New York City teachers streamed onto their campuses Tuesday through Thursday for training on moving instruction entirely online during a citywide school shutdown. In some cases, they walked in without any official word on whether they might have been exposed to someone with the new coronavirus.
City health officials have stopped publicly confirming instances of COVID-19 among school communities, as cases have skyrocketed to more than 3,600 as of Thursday morning in New York City.
Chicago schools will stay closed through April 20 in an effort to stem the exponential growth of the new coronavirus, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a Thursday evening address.
As coronavirus pushed campuses across the country to close, and college after college issued orders to resuscitate courses online, it became clear that faculty needed help, stat.
Diann Maurer answered the call. An instructional designer in Texas who weathered Hurricane Harvey, she knew firsthand what it’s like to try to keep education alive during a crisis. So she whipped up a few online forms, messaged colleagues on Twitter and together they created the Instructional Design Emergency Response Network.
Like lots of other kids, Jocilyn Oyler’s 11-year-old daughter is out of school amid coronavirus fears. But unlike other kids, she can’t just log onto the computer and do her schoolwork at home.
At school, she gets adult help in every classroom, plus speech therapy and other services. With her school closed, all that is gone. “She can’t write a paragraph without having a meltdown,” her mother says.
Advocates of children with special needs are sounding the alarm on Senate Republicans’ proposed “Phase 3” coronavirus stimulus package, saying that it may eventually give the government power to absolve schools of at least some of their legal obligation to educate students with disabilities.
The Coronavirus Effect: Story Ideas on Students, Schools
How COVID-19 is poised to reshape the learning experience
The coronavirus pandemic isn’t just a public health story. It’s also an education story; many of them, actually. With most of the nation’s public and private schools now closed, education reporters are on the front lines of crisis coverage. News outlets around the country are a crucial source of information for communities.
Here are a handful of story ideas to tap in covering what continues to be a fast-changing situation on the preschool through secondary education front, with lots of strong examples of enterprising news coverage.
As districts scramble to establish distance learning plans for long-term school closures, they’re struggling to provide services to students with disabilities and those with other exceptional circumstances. It’s a challenge with broad implications, tied to financial consequences for districts and developmental consequences for the most vulnerable students in America.
In the chaotic days before and after all public schools in the Washington region shut down for at least two weeks, school systems scrambled to prepare for teaching students from afar. Some teachers are giving lessons through video conferences on Zoom. Others are uploading materials to online learning platforms such as Canvas, or directing students to educational YouTube videos.