K-12 School Reopening Trends

December 20, 2021

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

Where We Are Now

This is Dennis from Burbio. Below is our weekly update. Feel free to share.

We have seen an increase in disruptions beginning the week of December 20th as well as in early January due to rising Covid 19 rates in pockets of the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and Northeast.   We will be keeping a closures-by-week chart updated at the top of our School Opening Tracker page over the course of this coming week, in addition to our School Disruptions Map which contains all closures, in the event we see further announcements in the coming days.   This report is for closures we have seen announced as of Saturday, December 18th. 

Burbio's School Opening Tracker and ESSER III  dataset were both used as benchmarks in this McKinsey & Company study titled "COVID 19 and Education: An Emerging K-Shaped Recovery" that was published this past week.  

Burbio School Opening Tracker-- With School Disruption Map Added

Burbio's School Mask Policy Tracker

Trends and Observations

  •  The number of schools closing early for the holiday break or going virtual next week is nearing the total of late August, and we are also seeing districts start the new year virtual due to rising Covid 19 rates and logistical challenges.  As noted above, we will be monitoring this week and posting updates on our  School Opening Tracker page: 
  • Covid 19 related closures are taking a variety of forms and here are some examples:

  • Prince George's County, MD school district, one of the nation's largest with over 200 schools, will be virtual from December 20th through January 14th. "Educators, administrators and support staff must be able to deliver in-person instruction and other activities in conditions that prioritize their own health, as well as the wellbeing of the school community," reads the release. 
  • Hamtramck, MI public schools will be virtual for a week post-New Years.  "Out of an abundance of caution, we're implementing a week of virtual learning upon the break's end," writes the Superintendent.
  • Dover Middle School, PA shifted to virtual learning December 17th. " In consultation with a Pennsylvania Department of Health epidemiologist, due to a drastic rise in COVID-19 cases and subsequent quarantining, the Dover Area Middle School will be shifting to virtual learning," reads the note. 
  • In Mars Hill, ME the District reports ". . this week's pooled testing has resulted in five pools coming back positive. . . in addition to 4 other positive COVID cases. . . we will be transitioning to virtual instruction at the elementary school building beginning December 20th." 
  • A group of schools in the Cleveland, OH district closed late this week amidst reports of staff illnesses and rising Covid 19 cases.  
  • Estancia Municipal School District, NM closed early for break, December 15th.  "We will be evaluating Covid positivity data during the holidays," writes the district. 
  • Oswego City School District, NY will be virtual from December 17th through the beginning of winter break.  "I am writing to share that due to a high number of staffing shortages (transportation, instructional and non-instructional staff) and a rise in COVID-19 cases (60 cases since Sunday of this week) and quarantines (75 current quarantines with additional pending cases so far this week) across the district, we will unfortunately be transitioning to remote – virtual instruction . . . " begins the communication
  • St Louis Park, MN extended winter break to December 20th and 21st. "For the mental and physical health and wellbeing of all, the School Board unanimously approved a calendar modification adding two days to winter break in order for everyone to re-energize," reads the note. 
  • In recent weeks we have noted districts proactively scheduling full virtual days to better manage staffing issues and this week we decided to measure the trend to see if it will continue into 2022.   Nationwide, we have identified only 17 districts that have a combined total of over 500 schools that have added three or more pre-planned "virtual learning" days to their calendars for the second semester.   Seven districts are in Virginia, two in Oregon, and individual districts in other states.  This is a trend we will continue to monitor but it does not appear to be widespread at this point in time. 

Districts have also added half-day or early-release days, and those are a bit more difficult to monitor given the wide use of early release days in a typical year.   A recent example is Clovis Municipal Schools, NM adding 8 early-release dates that "will provide classroom teachers an additional 20 hours to accomplish professional tasks." Another is Queen Anne's County Public Schools, MD adding five half-days between now and May. 

  • In trends from around the country:

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