COVID-19 Impact

As the States get closer to re-opening K-12 schools, there is still much we don’t know about the Covid-19 virus and its impact on children.  We don’t know the number of children who have the virus, their range of symptoms, their contagious rates, and how best to protect their safety and that of those around them.  Prevention strategies used by adults—hand washing, social distancing—become much more challenging when trying to implement them with children of all ages, in closed environments, and high student teacher ratios.  The stakes couldn’t be higher.  Tens of millions of children and adults will be part of this intervention.  Even the slightest outbreaks can close schools back down indefinitely.  Given this level of uncertainty and potential contingencies, it is critical to track data that will help schools identify problems quickly, assess their nature, and respond in timely and effective ways to safeguard the health of students and education staff while providing a quality education. 

This overview provides relevant, up-to-date research and data on critical aspects of operating K-12 schools in the Covid-19 era.  Specifically it will track the following critical issues: (1) student health (recent research, data on exposure, infections, intensive care use, and deaths), (2) Staff health (recent research, data on exposure, infections, intensive ward, deaths, (3) school health (recent research, models, school openings, school closings), and (4) student performance (student absenteeism, academic performance, social behavioral issues)

Creating a Dashboard to Monitor the Reopening of Schools: The Baseline

COVID-19 School Reopening PDF

Keyworth, R., & States, J. (2020). Creating a Dashboard to Monitor the Reopening of Schools: The Baseline. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/covid-19-impact.

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, States will soon reopen most, if not all, of their 138,000 K-12 schools and 55 million students will return to the classroom. This will be done at a time when there is significant uncertainty as to the impact Covid-19 will have on the health of students and education staff.  There is much unknown regarding how the Covid-19 virus affects children, how contagious they might be, and how effective the various hygiene and social distancing prevention strategies will be.  The same is true for the health of education staff, who will be trying to implement prevention protocols with large numbers of children in small spaces.  And ultimately, there is the question of how effective education will be in the context of different schedules, models, distractions, potential school closures, and remote learning. 

Given this level of uncertainty, it is critical to track data that will help schools identify problems quickly, assess their nature, and respond in timely and effective ways to safeguard the health of students and education staff while providing a quality education. 

The Wing Institute is adding a new section to its Education System Dashboard that focuses on issues regarding the reopening of schools under the Covid-19 pandemic.  It will provide relevant, up-to-date research and data on a wide range of metrics, starting with the following:

 

  • Student health (recent research; up-to-date data on Covid-19 exposure, infections, intensive care use, and deaths; socio emotional impacts)

 

  • Staff health (recent research; up-to-date data on Covid-19 exposure, infections, intensive care use, and deaths; socio emotional impacts)

 

  • School health (recent research; models; school openings; school closings)

 

  • Student performance (student absenteeism; academic performance; social behavioral issues)

 

As most of the research is still in its early stage, and there is no data yet on the reopening schools, this analysis starts with a baseline of the information we have to date for I. student health and II. staff health.

 

DASHBOARD SECTION:  STUDENT HEALTH

BASELINE RESEARCH: 

Research is still in the very early stages of understanding Covid-19’s impact on children, staff and schools.   Most of it is still in process, being peer reviewed, and/or waiting replication.  Yet, once schools reopen, decisions will made every day about ways to protect children and staff.  Schools will have to rely on the best available evidence, starting with the following fundamental questions:

Are children more or less susceptible to contracting Covid-19 than adults?

One of the first studies did a systematic review and meta-analysis of over 6,000 studies and concluded that children under 18-20 had 56% lower odds than adults of catching coronavirus from an infected person. (1)  Another study found that children were about one third as susceptible to the Covid-19 virus as adults,  It also concluded that children in school had about three times as many contacts as adults with three times as many opportunities to become infected, which essentially evens out the odds.

How easily can children transmit the virus to others?

There is still very little data on whether or not children can spread the virus the same as adults.  One study examined the “viral loads” of children and found that children who tested positive have just as much virus as adults do and presumably are just as infectious.  This was also true for children who were asymptomatic. Much more research is required to answer this question.

What other symptoms and illnesses are associated with Covid-10 in children?

Initial research suggests that the Covid-19 symptoms are milder with children than with adults. Yet there are also signs that some children may be exhibiting more serious illnesses that are Covid-19 related.   Recently several children have been diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory condition with some similar features to those of Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome. There is some evidence that this illness is related to Covid-19 infections.

BASELINE DATA: 

Given the speed with which Covid-19 has spread, we don’t have complete data on critical health issues for children.  And, as schools have not yet reopened, we have no data on student health once they are in classrooms.  Given the severe nature of the Covid-19 threat, we must go with the best available data.

This dashboard section will track the number of student Covid-19 cases, cases needing intensive care services, and deaths.  To date, the numbers of children in each category is very small.  Much of this is the result of underreported data.  It is believed that many children with primary COVID infection were never diagnosed because, until recently, only sick people were getting tested.

As with counting the number of adult Covid-19 cases, there is great discrepancy between children’s cases reported and cases projected by various public health models.  The consensus is that it is the result of underreported data.  Many children with primary COVID infection were never diagnosed because, until recently, only sick people were getting tested.  The number of cases reported by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and those by public health modeling differ by a factor of ten or more.  On April 2,, 2020, CDC reported just over 2,500 cases.  One public health model projected over 150,000 cases at that date.  This model projected there are likely over 900,000 children as of May 25, 2020, of 1.3% of all children.  Both models show the number of cases increasing over time.

Baseline data for children who have required intensive care unit services is much more accurate, as is that with the number of children who have died.  Both totals are low; 391 children required intensive care services and 35 children have died.  But both show steep trend lines upwards.


DASHBOARD SECTION:  STAFF HEALTH

Baseline Research:  Staff

There is no research as of yet on the impact of Covid-19 on the health of teachers (or other education staff) in the classroom setting.  Yet, we do have data that suggest teachers may be at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 due their age, the challenges of social distancing, and the hands-on nature of their jobs. 

The available epidemiological data suggests a person’s age is one of the predictors of high risk with the virus.  The risk of severe illness requiring hospitalization jumps significantly with people ages fifty and older.  CDC data shows a jump of almost 300% (37.2 to 105.9) between adults 18-49 and those who are 50-64.  The percentage of individuals who die from the virus also makes a large jump (650%) once someone is in the 45-64 age range

The challenge is that a significant percent of teachers and school principals are in this higher risk age range.  Over 29% of teachers are 50 years or older, including 17.6% who are 55 and over.  Principals face the same risks, with 37.8% of their ranks ages 45-54 and 27% who are 55 and over.  This means that a significant part of the school staff is already more at rick due to their age.  To the degree that schools turn out to be high risk environments, could be catastrophic.

In addition to age demographics, the very nature of the teaching job increases the risk of exposure.  The first risk involves high levels of social contact.  Despite recommended protocols for social distancing by teachers, high levels of social contact with students are inevitable.  Pre-Covid-19 research showed that teachers have significantly more contacts on a working day than the national average.  For example a teacher in a normal working day will have at least 50% more contact hours than either unemployed or retired people. The degree to which social distancing in the classroom will reduce these levels is yet to be seen.

And finally, and classrooms tend to be full of germs.  One study examined the desks, computers and phones from various professions and found that teachers had six times more germs in their workspace than accountants, the second-place finisher.  The high sample rate for germs may or may not be the same issue once schools reopen, and dramatic hygiene protocols are in place, but as a baseline, it gives one pause for concern.

Baseline Data:  Staff

Until the schools reopen, we will not have data on how well the Covid-19 protocols are working with either students or staff in U.S. school settings. 

DASHBOARD SUMMARY

The United States is about to embark upon a very high stakes strategy towards reopening schools.  As one superintendent stated, it is an “impossible balancing act”.  Opening schools has inherent risks to students, staff and families.  Not opening schools also has risks as children benefit from the socio-emotional and academic structure schools provide.  Virtually all of our actions in trying to get back to normalcy in the Covid-19 pandemic will require a constant attention to data on what is working and what is not.  It will allow us to make course corrections quickly and with some level of confidence.  The systems dashboard is one example of what can be used to track progress.  But it is at the individual school level where data can make the most difference.  The journey is going to be a balancing act for a long time.

No items found.

TITLE
SYNOPSIS
CITATION
Remote Learning Overview

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in school closings for the remainder of the year in 48 of 50 states and a sharp turn toward remote instruction in order to finish the year as best as possible. Understanding best practice in remote instruction and learning will be key as schools look to the future.

Donley, J., Detrich, R., States, J., & Keyworth, (2020). Remote Learning Overview. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/effective-instruction-computers.

How technology, coronavirus will change teaching by 2025

In early March, Education Week caught up with them by phone when they were in Paris to speak at an ed-tech conference. We asked them how their 2015 predictions had fared. Then, we talked again in late April, when the coronavirus had suddenly transformed K-12 education into a massive remote learning system.

Gewertz, C. (2020, June 2). How technology, coronavirus will change teaching by 2025. Education Week. https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/06/03/how-technology-coronavirus-will-change-teaching-by.html

 
Amid Pandemic, Support Soars for Online Learning, Parent Poll Shows:

The survey was conducted in May 2020. While this was early in the Covid-19 pandemic, unemployment was already 14.7%, the economy in recession, and the schools were shutdown.  This survey provides one of the first opportunities to evaluate the public’s views on education in this context

Henderson, M. B., Houston, D. M., Peterson, P. E.,  West, M. R. & Shakeel, M. D. (2020). Amid Pandemic, Support Soars for Online Learning, Parent Poll Shows Results from the 2020 Education Next Survey of Public Opinion.  Education Next20(13), 8-19. https://www.educationnext.org/amid-pandemic-support-soars-online-learning-parent-poll-shows-2020-education-next-survey-public-opinion/

Amid Pandemic, Support Soars for Online Learning, Parent Poll Shows:

 The survey was conducted in May 2020.  While this was early in the Covid-19 pandemic, unemployment was already 14.7%, the economy in recession, and the schools were shutdown.  This survey provides one of the first opportunities to evaluate the public’s views on education in this context.

Henderson, M. B., Houston, D. M., Peterson, P. E.,  West, M. R. & Shakeel, M. D. (2020). Amid Pandemic, Support Soars for Online Learning, Parent Poll Shows Results from the 2020 Education Next Survey of Public Opinion.  Education Next20(13), 8-19.

 

The disparities in remote learning under coronavirus (in charts)

The messy transition to remote learning in America’s K-12 education system as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has been marked by glaring disparities among schools, according to nationally representative surveys of U.S. teachers and school district leaders administered by the EdWeek Research Center.

Herold, B. (2020, April 10). The disparities in remote learning under coronavirus (in charts). Education Week.https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/04/10/the-disparities-in-remote-learning-under-coronavirus.html

 
The rise of K–12 blended learning.

Online learning is sweeping across America. In the year 2000, roughly 45,000 K–12 students took an online course. In 2009, more than 3 million K–12 students did. What was originally a distance-learning phenomenon no longer is. Most of the growth is occurring in blended-learning environments, in which students learn online in an adult-supervised environment at least part of the time. As this happens, online learning has the potential to transform America’s education system by serving as the backbone of a system that offers more personalized learning approaches for all students.

Horn, M., & Staker, H. (2011). The rise of K–12 blended learning. Mountain View, CA: Innosight Institute.

 
Virtual schools in the U.S. 2019

This report provides disinterested scholarly analyses of the characteristics and performance of fulltime, publicly funded K-12 virtual schools; reviews the relevant available research related to virtual school practices; provides an overview of recent state legislative efforts to craft virtual schools policy; and offers policy recommendations based on the available evidence.

Molnar, A., Miron, G., Elgeberi, N., Barbour, M. K., Huerta, L., Shafer, S. R., & Rice, J. K. (2019). Virtual schools in the U.S. 2019. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. https://nepc.colorado.edu/sites/default/files/publications/Virtual%20Schools%202019.pdf

 
Learning remotely when schools close: How well are students and schools prepared? Insights from PISA.

That being said, the Covid-19 crisis strikes at a point when most of the education systems covered by the OECD’s latest round of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) are not ready for the world of digital learning opportunities. Below are some sobering numbers.

OECD (2020). Learning remotely when schools close: How well are students and schools prepared? Insights from PISA. https://read.oecd-ilibrary.org/view/?ref=127_127063-iiwm328658&title=Learning-remotely-when-schools-close

10 strategies for online learning during a coronavirus outbreak.

Members of ISTE’s professional learning networks have been hard at work identifying key practices for successful online learning. Here are some of the best ideas from educators from around the world, many of whom have already been teaching during coronavirus closures. 

Snelling, J., & Fingal, D. (2020, March 16). 10 strategies for online learning during a coronavirus outbreak. Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Education. https://www.iste.org/explore/learning-during-covid-19/10-strategies-online-learning-during-coronavirus-outbreak

 

No items found.

Back to Top