K-12 School Reopening Trends

August 30, 2021

For more detail on Burbio's dataset, please email dennis@burbio.com

Where We Are Now

Through 8/27 approximately 75% of US K-12 students had started school. This week 15% of US K-12 students start, including the majority in Northeast states such as Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Delaware, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Other states where the majority of students return include Wisconsin, Washington, and the District of Columbia. Just under one-third of New York, New Jersey and Minnesota students start this week while the balance of New Jersey and Minnesota start right after Labor Day and New York in the two weeks after Labor Day (NYC starts 9/13).

This week we decided to create a new color (orange) on our State Mask Policy Tracker to reflect states where laws banning mask mandates have suffered legal defeats and enforcement is in question.

Finally as school closures increase (the up-to-date map can be found at the top of our School Opening Tracker page in addition to the visual, below) this week we drill down more on the trends we are seeing. More below.

Burbio School Opening Tracker-- With School Disruption Map Added

Burbio's School Mask Policy Tracker

Trends and Observations

  • Here is an overview of the patterns we are tracking in district and school closures.

  • To date we have identified closures of just under 700 schools in 158 districts across 25 states.
  • The types of closures can be broken into four categories. The most frequent are schools in districts that moved to remote learning (77 districts). The next most common is schools in districts that temporarily close with no instruction being offered (58 districts). A third category is a delayed start of school (11 districts).  We also saw schools in eight districts that went into hybrid learning, and four that have had disruptions starting as closures and then shifting to virtual instruction.
  • The average in-person learning disruption (across all categories) is 9.7 days.
  • The first schools to close, in early August, came from very small districts. That is still the case but we have started to see schools close within bigger districts as well. School closures occurred in 40 districts with less than 1,000 students, and just under 100 districts affected by school closures have less than 4,000 total students. That said, we found closures of schools in 10 districts in our Top 200 including a middle school in Williamson County, TN, several schools in Clayton County, GA, a K-8 school in Osceola County, FL, elementary schools in Fort Bend ISD, TX, an elementary school in Clark County, NV, and a hybrid plan implemented at a high school in DeSoto County, MS school district.

  • School bus transportation staffing issues are going to be a key issue this year as labor shortages combined with Covid-19 quarantines affecting drivers will create logistical issues in getting students to school . As we have noted, it is an issue in Pittsburgh's delayed school start and it appears this will be an ongoing issue this Fall. 

  • Two weeks ago we reported that 103 of the Top 200 districts had mask mandates. That number has now risen to 140 as districts across Florida and Texas have added mandates, as well large districts in mask-flexible states across the Midwest and Rockies. Our School Mask Policy Tracker now has a new color. From this week:

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