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.

But Is It Safe to Open Schools? Public Health Experts Weigh In
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 addressed a host of tough issues, and fielded questions, during this EWA webinar.

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.

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. 

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.

EWA Radio

At These Christian Schools Getting Public Dollars, LGBTQ Students Pushed Into Conversion Therapy
New investigation finds academies receiving millions in taxpayer dollars are using the controversial practice with students with pseudoscientific conversion therapy (EWA Radio: Episode 241)

In a new investigation, The Huffington Post’s Rebecca Klein found disturbing examples of Christian schools that receive taxpayer dollars — through tax credit scholarship and voucher programs — that were requiring LGBTQ students to undergo “conversion therapy” in an attempt to change their sexual orientation. The controversial practice…

Webinar

Summer Means Sunlight: Investigative Angles on Education Stories in the COVID-19 Era

This webinar is co-hosted by Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) and EWA.

The pandemic is causing an unprecedented disruption to the education of millions of students nationwide, with more questions than answers. Whether you are an education beat reporter or are interested in investigating schools, colleges or universities, what are the stories this summer amid COVID-19 you can be working on? Join this webinar on Thursday, June 25, at 2 p.m. Eastern.

EWA Radio

Protest Stories Are Education Stories
Longtime radio journalist Adolfo Guzman-Lopez shares insights from the Southern California schools beat, and how to effectively cover the public response to George Floyd’s death
(EWA Radio: Episode 240)

For education reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez of KPCC, Southern California Public Radio, life has been “an emotional roller coaster” since he was shot in the throat by police with a rubber bullet. The incident happened May 31 in Long Beach, where Guzman-Lopez was covering a protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

EWA Radio

What’s New With ‘Varsity Blues’
The latest on the college-admissions scandal, and how COVID-19 is reshaping what campuses will look like this fall
(EWA Radio: Episode 239)

With more celebrity defendants pleading guilty to using a high-priced fixer to help their kids cheat their way into top colleges, what’s been the impact on college admissions? The Wall Street Journal’s Melissa Korn, whose book on the “Varsity Blues” scandal has been optioned for a television project, discusses the latest developments, as well as the fallout more broadly for higher education.

Seminar

73rd EWA National Seminar

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. 

This multi-day conference is designed to give participants the skills, understanding, and inspiration to improve their coverage of education at all levels. It also will deliver a lengthy list of story ideas. We will offer numerous sessions on important education issues, as well as on journalism skills.

EWA Radio

Budget Cuts Loom for Education. How Vulnerable Are Your Local Schools?
COVID-19's economic fallout is sure to take a toll on districts, but impacts may vary widely
(EWA Radio: Episode 238)

With the nation facing a pandemic-driven recession unlike any in generations, public schools are bracing for a big financial hit. Reporter Daarel Burnette II of Education Week shares insights from his school finance coverage during the crisis and a new database that gauges the economic vulnerability of districts from coast to coast.

Report

As the School Year Ends, Work Remains for Education Reporters

As the academic year comes to a close in communities across the country, the work for education reporters is only ramping up. 

The work ahead will include finding students and their families willing to share how remote learning has affected them — and who has been left behind, says Shelly Conlon, who covers education in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Conlon’s investigative reporting for The Argus Leader last year prompted legislation that aims to change how the state educates deaf and hard of hearing children. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Testing COVID-19’s Academic Impact on Students
Early assessments seen as key to gauging learning gaps, social-emotional needs

When schools reopen, expect to see a lot of testing.

Sure, COVID-19 testing may be prevalent for students and their teachers. But in addition, a first step for many schools will be diagnostic tests to gauge learning gaps after months away. Some experts also are calling for assessments of students’ social, emotional, and mental health needs as they start the new academic year.

Webinar

Express Webinar: Meet Editors Buying Freelance Education Stories
Editors explain how to pitch and what to expect

Journalist members of the Education Writers Association will have an exclusive opportunity to get advice from two editors who are buying education stories from freelancers at 2:30 p.m. Eastern, Tuesday, May 19.

Editors at The Hechinger Report and Money will explain how to get your pitches heard by their staffs, what they want from freelance writers, and how much they pay.

Tip Sheet

EWA Tip Sheet: Writing About Colleges’ Finances Amid Coronavirus

This post was originally published on Journalist’s Resource. It has been republished here with permission of the author. 

Colleges across the country face deep financial losses after the coronavirus forced school officials to shutter campuses and cancel events. Administrators worry their money troubles will only get worse if enrollment, government funding and other sources of revenue continue to fall amid a likely recession.

EWA Radio

Do Students Have a Right to Literacy?
Landmark court decision finds access to adequate educational services is a “basic right”
(EWA Radio: Episode 237)

A federal appeals court recently ruled that the state of Michigan has failed  to make sure children in Detroit are adequately educated. The April decision said the city’s schools have suffered from underfunding, poorly maintained facilities and too few qualified teachers. While the state is contemplating an appeal, the decision is still considered a landmark for civil rights advocates mounting similar challenges in state courts across the country.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Will Coronavirus Be a Tipping Point That Ends Annual Testing in Schools?
Every state received a waiver of federal testing rules for 2019-20. What about next year and beyond?

The cancellation of statewide testing for millions of students this spring was no surprise, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. But it’s raising a larger question — whether the era of annual assessments in reading and mathematics, as required under federal law, will soon end.

Behind (Remotely) Closed Doors: Keeping Tabs on School Boards and Leaders
Webinar

Behind (Remotely) Closed Doors: Keeping Tabs on School Boards and Leaders

State sunshine laws and open meetings acts are meant to promote government transparency and democratic participation. But as COVID-19 has prompted school boards and state educational agencies to shift to virtual meetings, reporters have already seen slippages in adherence to transparency laws.

With big budget deadlines looming and other major decisions being made every day, journalists and analysts are wondering if the move to virtual meetings means virtually zero public input and communication. 

Reporting Remotely: Strategies for Sourcing From Home
Webinar

Reporting Remotely: Strategies for Sourcing From Home

How can journalists who are (mostly) stuck at home during the pandemic continue to cultivate sources and tell compelling stories of the real human experience unfolding for students and families?

Two reporters provide practical advice and strategies in this webinar from the Education Writers Association. How can you make the most of virtually following a student via Zoom as he tries to learn at home? What are the best tools to cast a wide net in your community to identify fresh voices for news coverage?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Under the Circumstances, No Pomp for the Class of 2020
Telling the story of a senior year changed by coronavirus

Few years are as laden with symbolic touchstones as the senior year of high school. With this year’s graduates denied those rites of passage due to the coronavirus pandemic — or at least the traditional rituals associated with them — emotions are running understandably high. 

For Frances Suavillo, an immigrant from the Philippines who is the valedictorian at Carson High School near Los Angeles, the change in plans wasn’t easy.