K-12 School Reopening Trends

March 15, 2021

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

Where We Are Now

Burbio School Opening Tracker- Now Including State Averages

  • % US K-12 students attending "virtual-only" schools = 20.8% (from 23.7% last week)
  • % US K-12 students attending "traditional" in-person/every day" schools = 49.1% (from 46.9%)
  • % US K-12 students attending "hybrid" schools = 30.1% (from 29.4%)

    The above percentages are set to Sunday, March 14th. Our data is presented as "students attending schools that offer this learning plan" - most districts also offer virtual even when providing in-person. For above, 20.8% of US K-12 students are currently attending schools that offer virtual-only plans, 49.1% offering traditional, etc.

Trends and Observations

  • We saw traditional transitions across the hybrid-heavy Midwest and Northeast. Cincinnati, OH schools will be traditional on March 31st and announced plans for full time in person next Fall. Waterbury, CT is moving to traditional this coming week, joining Hartford (K-9) and Stamford (K-8) as recent CT cities to make the move. Detroit, MI schools returned to traditional. Cherry Hill, NJ moved to traditional this past week and Keystone Oaks, PA school district converted half their grades to traditional this past week with the rest coming this week. Wappinger Falls, NY began traditional on March 8th and New Prague, MN converted to traditional last week. El Paso School District in Colorado Springs brought middle and high school in traditional this past week. Mundelein Elementary, a K-8 school in Illinois, brought K-5 in traditional last week and will bring 6-8 this coming week, one of several in-process or announced transitions in Illinois.
  • We saw more executive action at the state level. In North Carolina Governor Cooper signed a law to require all K-5 schools to be full time in person in three weeks, and middle and high schools to be at least hybrid. The New Mexico Department of Education announced a goal of having all schools in New Mexico "fully reopen" by April 5th. In Massachusetts where the Education Commissioner gained authority on school reopening, the Department ordered K-5 schools to be full time in person by April 5th,and middle school by April 28th. In Washington, Governor Inslee indicated he will make an emergency proclamation this coming week ordering K-5 schools to offer hybrid by at least April 5th and middle and high schools by April 19th. As noted last week, Oregon's Governor Brown ordered K-5 to be in hybrid by at least March 29th and 6-12 by April 19th, and we also noted the Governors of Arizona order all schools open by this coming week and a bill signed in Kentucky by the Governor ordering schools open by the end of March.

    These state level directives (Iowa and West Virginia being two other examples since January) come in a variety of formats: bills from the legislature signed by the Governor, mandates by the State Department of Education, or Executive Orders from the Governor. We see immediate impact at the district level when these orders occur through references in Superintendent letters, accelerated learning plan introductions, and local board of education votes. We can see these tools playing a role in school planning for this coming Fall.
  • In January we started publishing a rolled up state index on our School Tracker and we have received several requests for a bar chart that illustrates the stages that various states are in. This "in-person index" is calculated by weighting the percentage of K-12 students in a state attending virtual schools at zero, traditional schools at 100, and hybrid districts at 50.
  • This past week saw a slightly faster increase in older students returning to the classroom. With the spate of K-5 in person state level mandates kicking for late March and early April across states with lower in person indexes we expect to see the "virtual" number of K-5 to drop precipitously by early April as only a handful of West Coast cities will be left not offering K-5 students any in-person options.

K-5 Students:

16.4% attending virtual-only schools (from 18.8% last week)
24.7% attending schools offering hybrid (from 24.2%)
58.9% attending schools offering traditional (from 57%)

Grades 6-8 Students

22% attending virtual-only schools (from 26.5% last week)
35% attending schools offering hybrid (from 33%)
43% attending schools offering traditional (from 40.5%)

High School Students

25.7% attending virtual-only schools (from 29.9% last week)
34.9% attending schools offering hybrid (from 33.9%)
39.4% attending schools offering traditional (from 36.2%)

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