K-12 School Reopening Trends

October 12, 2020

Dennis Roche

Where We Are Now

Burbio School Opening Tracker- Map

  • % US K-12 Students attending 'Virtual only" schools = 45.6% (versus 49.8% last week)
  • % US K-12 Students Attending 'Traditional In-person/Every day" schools = 31.6% (versus 28.8%) 
  • % US K-12 Students Attending "Hybrid" Schools = 22.1% (versus 21.3%)

Note: 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, 45.6% of US K-12 students are currently attending schools that offer only virtual plans, 31.6% offering Traditional, etc. 

Trends and Observations

  • To review, Burbio launched the audit on August 11th showing 52% "virtual only" and it shifted dramatically as the month went on and increased to  62% by Labor Day as large districts such as Hawaii, Dallas, small cities in the Northeast, Boston and parts of the Midwest reversed previously announced in-person plans.   In our  Labor Day release  we noted that many districts had announced plans to shift from virtual to in-person during September, and that trend has taken hold as the virtual-only number is now 45.6%.
  • Over 4% of US K-12 students, or roughly 2MM students, moved from attending virtual-only schools to traditional in-person or hybrid plans this week.   Miami, FL, Fort Worth, TX,  Cincinnati, OH, Yonkers NY, and big parts of Cobb County, GA,  were among the larger areas to return students to school in either traditional or hybrid format.  We noted shifts in over 20 states from all regions of the US.
  •  As indicated in our School Opening Tracker  in the Northeast the preferred transition from virtual is to a hybrid format, while in the Sun Belt the preferred is directly from virtual to traditional in-person.  
  • Transitions to in-person can come both ahead or behind scheduled plans.  Boston pushed back their in-person learning start at least a week due to COVID-19 rates being above target thresholds.  Conversely, Radnor Township, PA is bringing students back to the classroom earlier than planned, as is Bourne, MA.
  • Districts that have been in-person and also offering virtual options for the past 4-8 weeks are beginning to make adjustments for the new educational reality.  Volusia County, FL is requiring students attending virtually who are not making academic progress to return to in-person learning and similarly Splendora, TX is requiring students to apply to continue with virtual learning due to concerns around attendance and academic advancement for those students.  Separately, North Dakota's health department has updated quarantining regulations for individuals who were wearing masks while in proximity to close contact COVID positive individuals.
  • In a widely reported move, NYC closed over 100 K-12 public schools and 200+ private schools across a number of zip codes in targeted city areas and some suburban areas due to Covid levels. This is the first widespread closure we have seen and comes only a few days after schools opened, and the Covid outbreak appears unrelated to schools being opened. 

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The data has been cited by  CNBC in August when it was announced  and since in CNBC stories about  racial inequality in education   and the impact of virtual learning on retail sales. Axios   led with the data in  a piece on virtual learning glitches;  Bloomberg  in multiple stories as well as  NPR, Politico   and USA Today.    Burbio has also been cited by JohnsHopkins Center for Health Security in a recent newsletter The Information in a piece about Ed Tech as well as CNBC in a piece about working parents and virtual education.   and the USC Center for Health Journalism.   We have also shared data with the CDC, HHS, and the Department of Education at the Federal level.  

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