In February, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the first systematic effort to collect nationally representative data on the status of school reopening and instructional modes across the country. Last week, the first results were released with data from 3,300 schools (of 5,000 surveyed) in 42 states. The data is available, and will be updated, at the School Survey Dashboard. Among the findings, 78% of 4th grade students and 74% of 8th grade students are in schools where hybrid or full-time in-person learning is available to some or all students. There are some notable differences by grade level:
- 38% of 4th graders were attending school in-person in January while only 28% of 8th graders were.
- 48% of 4th grade students did not have the option of in-person instruction as of January; for 8th grade students, that figure was 54%.
- 7% of 4th graders and 10% of 8th graders were receiving no live instruction on days when remote learning occurred.
Other findings include:
- Schools in cities and suburbs were less likely to offer in-person instruction than their counterparts in rural areas and towns.
- There were large differences in enrollment in instructional types by race and ethnicity with white students more likely to be attending school in-person than Black, Hispanic, and Asian students.
- When schools reported priority groups for in-person schooling, they most often indicated prioritization for (1) students with disabilities, (2) English language learners, (3) students without internet at home, (4) those in younger grades, and (5) students experiencing homelessness.
Relatedly, the Biden administration convened the National Safe School Reopening Summit last week. The sessions featured representatives from schools, districts, states, and the CDC and ED discussing lessons learned and best practices for implementing the CDC’s safe reopening recommendations, technical assistance for keeping students, teachers, and staff safe, and guidance on meeting the academic, social, and emotional needs of students, particularly the historically underserved and those hardest hit by the pandemic. The event was recorded and is available to watch.