Back-To-School Jitters

As August approaches, questions about whether and how to safely reopen K12 schools for the 2020 school year are becoming more urgent and political.

There is a growing divide in government, with President Trump calling on all schools to reopen in the fall and threatening funding cuts for schools that remain closed. Dr. Fauci has called for a localized approach, where school districts make reopening decisions based on COVID cases in the area. The CDC has resisted pressure from President Trump to release new, less restrictive guidelines on how to safely get students and teachers back into the classroom.

But if schools reopen in the fall, will students and educators come back?

Nearly two-in-three educators want schools to remain closed in the fall, and a similar number say they have a personal condition or a close loved one who is at high risk for adverse effects of coronavirus. About one-in-five teachers say they are not likely to come back if schools reopen.

Parents are more eager to get back, with more than half saying they want schools to reopen full-time and in-person, while more than a third prefer a hybrid approach of in-person and remote learning.

While remote learning offers safety benefits, it also comes with disparate impacts on families. 

Six-in-ten working parents reported difficulties with remote learning compared to 44% of non-working parents. Younger parents, unmarried parents and women were also more likely to report challenges. Private and charter school parents were more likely than traditional public school parents to be satisfied with the quality of remote learning. There were also differences by race, with non-white parents less satisfied with remote instruction.

Johns Hopkins University’s new eSchool+ Initiative is offering research and resources to  analyze school reopening plans and ensure ethics and equity in the pandemic response.