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.
As Coronavirus Closures Force Colleges to Move Students Online, Ed-Tech Expert Opportunity, But Also Risk
As the new coronavirus outbreak prompted college after university to start shifting classes online — either for a few weeks or for the remainder of the spring semester — education technology companies lined up to say they could help.
The coronavirus situation is forcing colleges to teach online for a few weeks or the rest of the semester. Budgets are tight. People are stressed. But for admissions, the timing is just as colleges are rolling out their days for admitted applicants. Most colleges have canceled these days (along with most student activity on their campuses) and are left to recruit students without what for most of them is one of their best assets: their physical campuses. This is a crucial time of year for many students.
As national fears swell over the coronavirus outbreak, more than a dozen governors called for school closures on Sunday.
Now, more than 30 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have closed schools for at least two or three weeks. Some officials have predicted even longer shutdowns that could stretch through the end of the school year.
Two coronavirus cases were confirmed Sunday at Chicago Public Schools, one coming at a South Side elementary school and another at a Southwest Side charter, the day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered all Illinois schools closed starting Tuesday.
The one at the kindergarten through eighth grade elementary school, district-run Sheridan Math and Science Academy in Bridgeport, was announced in an email to all CPS families Sunday evening. The district wouldn’t say whether it was a student or a staff member who came down with the coronavirus, COVID-19.
As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in states surrounding Delaware continues to grow, so too does the urgency of district officials crafting preparedness plans for Delaware schools.
State officials have told districts that as of yet there is no need to make immediate decisions about reducing class sizes or school closures. With no confirmed cases in Delaware as of Tuesday, school districts across the state have primarily encouraged good hygiene and flu prevention practices among students and staff.
After-school programs are urged to follow the guidance of their local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in response to the coronavirus epidemic, the Afterschool Alliance said in a statement. Share CDC information and check the department of health in your state, the organization said.
School leaders across Houston are bracing for long-term campus closures that will require extensive efforts to deliver meals and educational materials to hundreds of thousands of children forced to stay home due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Hours after nearly all Houston-area districts announced they will be closed through next week in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus, education leaders said Friday they are preparing to remain out of school well beyond this month.
Amid a rise in coronavirus cases nationwide and locally, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced schools across the state would shut down effective Monday through April 13, Edwards’ office announced in a press release Friday. The closure will affect public elementary, middle and high schools, including both traditional and charter schools.
Amid growing coronavirus concerns, New York City’s teachers union as well as the union representing school administrators called on Friday for the country’s largest school system to close its doors in the face of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s strident opposition.
Across the country, schools and universities are closing to prevent further outbreak of the coronavirus—and student-teachers are caught in the middle.
Thousands of schools have been closed or are scheduled to close, according to Education Week’s database, which is continuously being updated. And dozens of colleges and universities have also canceled or postponed in-person classes, moving to online instruction.
Less than two hours after organizers called off SXSW EDU, Vaught connected with Elizabeth Hubing, who runs the Iowa Edtech Collaborative, about finding a way to connect with others who were going to be in town. That evening, they formed an ad hoc Slack group called “EdUnconference.”
The Austin school district shuttered its campuses Friday amid the growing threat of the new coronavirus.
Citing an “interest of health safety in regard to our students and staff,” the district told parents in a 3:35 a.m. email and phone call that it would “continue to closely monitor the situation and provide operational updates, as necessary.”
Amid virus fears, hundreds of colleges and universities have now moved face-to-face instruction online. Some, like the University of Washington, have decided to keep campuses open and to let students decide if they want to stay.
Other colleges, however, have said in no uncertain terms that students, barring extraordinary circumstances, need to leave campus.
ALBANY — By noon on Thursday, the dorms at University at Albany were eerily silent. In the Campus Center, small clusters of students waited around listlessly. Some wore masks or rubber gloves provided by the college upon request.
Sharinel Nunez, a sophomore from Brooklyn, said she wore the protective gear because she was planning to take public transportation back home later in the day.
“I don’t know if I’m safer here or in the city,” she said. “I feel like there are a lot of cases we still don’t know about.”
More than 10,000 K-12 schools in the United States have shuttered or announced closings because of worries about spreading the coronavirus, affecting some 5 million students. Entire states, including Ohio and Maryland, and some of the nation’s big cities, including San Francisco and Houston, announced closings on Thursday.
Though health experts disagree to what extent school closures will help, some parents are signing petitions demanding that more schools close and shift to online learning to protect families from the risk of infection.
States might be able to scrap their required annual tests for closed schools, the federal education department said Thursday, as concerns about the coronavirus swept the country.
Guidance released by the U.S. Department of Education says it will consider waiving requirements for state-wide tests, currently mandated in grades 3-8 and once in high school. State testing occurs throughout the spring, and some school closures were already running into planned testing windows.
As coronavirus closes schools, a growing number of educators, observers and others have also asked whether states will continue to require students to sit for their annual spring accountability tests.
“There are plenty of reasons to question the high stakes use of these tests in any year, but one thing is clear—this year, they will produce no useful data,” national education blogger Peter Green writes in Forbes.
As leaders across the country have shut down school districts to curb the spread of coronavirus, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo have come under growing pressure from elected officials, public health experts, teachers and parents to do the same in New York City.
The latest to do so was the City Council speaker, Corey Johnson, who on Friday called on the city to temporarily close it schools. “It is not time to panic,” he wrote on Twitter. “But it is time to act.”
The Covid-19 pandemic threatens the health of millions across the country, and it has pitched the remainder of the academic year into chaos and uncertainty. While students wait to learn how, or if, they can finish out their terms, college leaders are beginning to grapple with the longer-term financial ramifications.
Schools That Go ‘Remote’ For Coronavirus Must Keep Serving Students With Disabilities. Can Any Really Do It?
When the Northshore School District in Washington state closed all its schools last week out of concerns over the new coronavirus, district officials promised they’d support their students with disabilities as schools moved all lessons online.
School leaders distributed thousands of laptops and WiFi hotspots to students and urged parents of students with disabilities to share concerns and questions. Still, the switch has proved difficult for some parents — something the district says it’s working to address.