This week, two new studies focus on COVID-19 spread in and around schools, new polling results provide updates on parent perspectives on schooling, and research coalesces around a few promising approaches to learning recovery.
Mitigation Measures and In-Person Schooling
A new survey-based study suggests that increased COVID-19 risk associated with in-person schooling is mitigated in places employing multiple non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), such as masking, distancing, symptom screening, and closure of extracurricular and supplemental activities. Importantly, the study cannot address whether places that use multiple mitigation measures are different from places that do not in other ways that may also influence COVID health metrics. Another recent study analyzed data on COVID prevalence in New York City from October through December 2020, including teacher, school staff, and student cases in 1,594 NYC public schools, and found that prevalence in schools was similar to or less than community prevalence in the same weeks.
Parent Perspectives on Schooling
April polling results from the nonprofit organization EdChoice indicate that parents of school-age children are increasingly more comfortable with in-person schooling; nearly two-thirds report feeling at least “somewhat comfortable” with in-person classes. Similarly, approximately two-thirds of parents anticipate a safe return to in-person schooling by fall of 2021. Notably, parents’ favorable views of homeschooling and interest in learning pods have increased since March. Parents are also more positive about the direction of education now, matching the level of over a year ago.
EdChoice also focuses specifically on Black parents’ perspectives. While Black parents have become more comfortable with their children returning to in-person learning, two-thirds believe it will not be safe to send their children back to school until August 2021 or later. Black parents report being more willing to vaccinate themselves and their children than they were two months ago. Finally, Black parents of school-age children continue to be more supportive than white and Hispanic parents of hybrid modes with some schooling taking place at home.
Strategies for Learning Recovery
In a column in Education Week, Heather Hill summarizes evidence-based strategies to support learning recovery. She focuses on high-dosage tutoring, which has a sizable research base, as well as other promising approaches, including extended learning time and summer programming.