School’s Out For . . . Spring? Understanding the Response of School Districts in the United States to COVID-19-Related Disruptions

There is no doubt that public education has suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers are comparing the COVID slide to summer learning loss, noting this loss could be much worse for those already underserved by U.S. schools (Kuhfeld & Tarasawa, 2020). In order to understand who this loss impacts and how, we need data on school, district, and statewide responses to the pandemic as it unfolded. Luckily, these data are available, as school districts across the country updated their communities about plans for spring 2020. To capture these updates, our team uses multiple approaches for collecting COVID-19-related information via school district websites and social media to create a new, nationwide dataset of district responses.We also analyze how these responses relate to contextual characteristics of districts and their surrounding communities, which will provide a picture of how district characteristics may drive disparities in access to and quality of schooling during the pandemic. Identifying these associations are critical for understanding and disrupting the reproduction and deepening of educational inequality caused by the COVID-19 crisis. The resulting dataset will provide researchers with the information necessary to understand how education during the pandemic may impact students for years to come.
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