Impact of COVID-19 on PreK and K-12 Education in the US.
According to Education Week, some 31 school districts in Florida face deep budget cuts due to school closures and the adverse effects on the economy due to the coronavirus pandemic. The school districts have instituted a hiring freeze on 134 positions, but there is still a huge deficit.
COVID-19 Impact on PreK and K12 Education in the US
- According to the Education Commission of the United States, early childhood education programs have been struggled to recruit qualified staff in recent years. This situation is exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Early education programs in the United States rely primarily on private tuition, state funding, and federal funding to run smoothly.
- In March this year, the National Association for the Education of Young Children surveyed private providers of PreK education in the United States. The survey found out that 89% of the providers said they could not survive extended school closures without additional resources.
- According to the Education Commission of the United States, PreK education policymakers are faced with budget cuts, and they are trying to make the most informed decisions with limited resources at their disposal.
- The Learning Policy Institute interviewed revenue and budgeting experts across the United States, who projected that state revenues and education spending would fall by between 10% and 20%.
- While the CARES package offers some relief for schools in the US and may cushion some from the economic impact of COVID-19, most Americans think it's not enough.
- In a letter to congress, teachers, parents, and principals are requesting at least $175 billion more funding to K-12 schools.
- According to the Learning Policy Institute, a 15% slash in education spending will see over 300,000 teachers being laid off.
PreK Schools Operations and Technology Usage
- Since most schools were shut down in the wake of COVID-19, most learners have been engaging in online classes, including PreK learners.
- However, many education stakeholders believe that preschool should not be offered online.
- Rhian Allvin, executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, posits in a blog post that it's close to impossible to substitute "high-quality, full-day, full-year early-childhood education program" with preschool online learning.
- According to her, preschool learning is best performed physically between teachers and students and among the students themselves, and there can be no online equivalent of such a curriculum.
- The resumption plans of the academic calendar differ from state to state, but for most of them, in-person learning will be the most preferred method of teaching PreK students.
- According to Education Dive, the continuation of learning during the duration of the pandemic depends on the type of program they are enrolled in and the funding the program receives.
- State-funded programs in Georgia and Alabama have quickly developed online learning resources for learners to use at home, and they are encouraging teachers to connect with their students using Zoom and other channels.
- According to Jaritza Jimenez, a lead teacher, she hopes families would create time "for music in the kitchen, doing art outside and using household items for nature, math and science activities."
- Early childhood educators are also concerned with how this prolonged absence from the classroom set up will affect how students adjust to kindergarten.
- Heather Williams, a pre-K teacher, says, "Pre-K is their first experience with school, and it has a significant impact on their entire educational career. My students won’t get to re-do or makeup this missed time. They are missing a lot of opportunities for socialization, which is a major focus of Pre-K."
- A recent survey on American parents by Caissa Public Strategy revealed that a majority of parents have reservations about sending their children back to school in the fall. A whopping 89% of the respondents expressed their concerns about the safety of their children if they return to school during COVID-19.
- According to the survey, 61% of parents may consider changing schools in the fall if the safety measures are not adhered to, while another 83% of parents expect some sort of changes when schools resume in fall.
COVID-19 Impacts on PreK and K-12 Education in Florida
- According to research by Education Week, some 31 school districts in Florida are being faced with deep budget cuts due to school closures and the adverse effects on the economy due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- According to Education Week, school districts with the highest risk are those in low-income communities, with a high enrollment of black and Hispanic, and rely on their states for more than half of their funding.
- The school districts include Dixie, Holmes, Monroe, Sarasota, Dade, Broward, Pinellas, and Orange.
- According to analysts, Broward County Public Schools, Florida's second-largest school district, may see up to $146 million in budget cuts. In response to the budget cuts, the school district instituted a hiring freeze on 134 positions, but there's still a huge budget deficit.
- The Sarasota school district is responding to the budget cuts by evaluating positions and programs that may not be essential and scrapping them.
Reopening of Schools
- Leon County school district has proposed four different options to open schools in Florida: "Schools could resume fulltime in August, or half the students could return to the classrooms, or half the students could return but go back home for online learning if the coronavirus erupts in a second wave, or students could continue to take classes remotely."
- While there is no released plan yet on how schools in Florida are going to open or whether they'll rely on online, in-person, or hybrid learning, most school districts have formed task forces and boards to advise them on the safe resumption of learning.
- Parents in Central Florida have expressed their concerns about sending their kids back to school in the fall due to the continued spread of the coronavirus.
- According to a survey conducted on parents from Central Florida, a majority of them are not ready to send their children back to school. Their sentiments are echoed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who added that until a vaccine is created, kids would be at a higher risk of infection if they resume school in the fall.
- On June 16, Broward Schools board fronted a return-to-school proposition that would see a hybrid model of learning being implemented with students learning in-campus for two or three days a week and virtually for the rest of the days.
- However, there's a new faction of parents who want a full week of on-campus learning, claiming that their kids have lost a lot since schools were shut down.
- According to a recent survey on 82,000 Florida parents, there's a marked division on how they propose the resumption of the academic calendar. One-third want schools to resume full-time, another third prefers hybrid learning; 25% want learning to be taken online, while the rest are not sure yet.
- The Pinella County school district conducted another survey on parents in the district. While there was a nearly 50-50 split between the parents who are comfortable sending their kids back to school in the fall and those who are not, the majority of the parents want a resumption of physical learning with the correct health guidelines in place.
- In mid-April, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that students in Florida were to continue learning online throughout the duration of the school year. However, in a news conference earlier, the governor and the commissioner for education unveiled plans to reopen Florida schools for in-person learning in fall 2020.
- According to the governor, Florida has one of the best distance learning systems in the country, but they cannot replace true learning in a classroom.
- While most school districts in Florida have made plans on reopening schools in the state, the increased number of coronavirus infections in the state is forcing them to consider a number of options for the safe resumption of learning. Some of the options include:
- Osceola County's school district has three options: in-person learning, digital learning with the assigned school, and the Osceola Virtual School for K-12 students.
- Lake County Schools have the following options: face-to-face learning, traditional in-school learning, full-time online learning through Lake County Virtual School, or hybrid day learning.
COVID-19 Impacts on PreK and K-12 Education in Texas
- While other states in the US have been adversely affected by PreK and K-12, Texas is currently an exception.
- In a letter to state agencies, Governor Greg Abbott asked them to reduce their budget by 5% so that they can effectively weather the economic downturn due to the coronavirus.
- Some state agencies are exempt from the budget cuts, and they include the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Military Department, and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
- School districts, Child Protective Services, and behavioral health service programs are exempt.
- Despite the state exemption from budget reductions, some school districts' budgets are being strained by the pandemic. Northside Independent School District, Texas' largest school district is drafting a budget without pay raises for employees and slower PreK program expansion, contrary to last summer's projections.
- North East ISD, Texas' second-largest school district is considering possible layoffs to deal with the budget cuts.
Reopening of Schools in Texas
- During a conference call to Texas lawmakers, Governor Greg Abbott said that Texas students would be returning to in-person learning this fall.
- According to Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, it is safe for students, staff, and teachers to return to school this fall for in-person learning. Morath added that for parents with health concerns for their children, schools will be flexible so that the students can engage in remote learning if the parent so prefers.
- When in-person learning resumes, schools in Texas will not mandate their students to wear masks or be tested for COVID-19 symptoms, according to Frank Ward, the Texas Education Agency spokesperson.
- According to Governor Abbott, his intention is for schools in the state to resume in-person instruction this fall, and there will be stricter safety measures than when schools opened last year.
- Texas schools will be required to have an option for remote learning if some students don't feel safe resuming in-person learning. Since the schools are funded on the basis of the number of attending students every day, there could be serious financial implications for the schools since it's not yet clear how they will fund such programs.
- Many school districts in Texas, including the Houston Independent School District, are prepping for a hybrid model of learning, where some students engage in in-person learning while others learn virtually from their homes.
- While state leaders have assured parents in Texas that schools are safe for reopening this fall, most parents are still not ready to send their kids to school, especially when the wearing of masks in schools is not mandatory.
- In a survey, Fort Worth ISD revealed that many parents and students were worried about the availability of masks and "are clamoring for required symptom checks in the fall."
- In San Antonio's Northside ISD, close to three-quarters of parents admitted that they would not send their kids to school if the coronavirus cases continue to increase locally. However, a good number of parents would feel more comfortable if the district took more safety measures.
- According to the Houston Chronicles, over half of the parents interviewed in a survey in some Houston school districts said they won't send their kids to school once in-person learning resumes.
COVID-19 Impacts on PreK and K-12 Education in California
- California's governor, Gavin Newsom, recently signed a new budget into law, offering a reprieve to K-12 schools in the state. The new budget has enough funding for schools in California to support hybrid models of learning when schools reopen this fall.
- The new budget is a revised version of the governor's proposals in May, which could have seen significant budget cuts leading to layoffs and furloughs by school districts in the state.
- Here's what is contained in the new budget:
- $5.3 billion in learning loss money
- $645 million for special education
- $2.3 billion for employees pension payment relief
- This budget deal means that the anticipated layoffs will be prevented for now.
Reopening of PreK and K-12 Schools in California
- In early June, the state of California issued new guidelines on the reopening of schools, with a greater emphasis on hybrid learning models. Tony Thurmond, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, describes the guidelines as a checklist for the over 10,000 schools in the state as they reopen for learning in the fall.
- According to the California Department of Education, schools will have to reduce class sizes by adopting hybrid scheduling with students alternating between in-person instruction and distance learning. For in-class learning, desks will be spaced six feet apart.
- There will be screening on school buses and school entry points, and teachers and learners will be required to wear face masks at all times.
- While pediatricians in California are urging the school districts to reopen schools, parents are still not ready to send their children back to school. Some parents believe that their kids may be immuno-compromised and may contract the virus to facilitate its spread to healthier members of the family.
- The parents are resorting to keeping their children at home even as schools resume this fall since too much is still unknown about COVID-19.
- Kandi Pickard, the chief executive of The National Down Syndrome Society, believes that the disabled students' needs are going to be ignored when schools reopen. The society is offering a suite of resources for parents who are still unsure whether they should send their children to school.
- However, some parents have voiced their concerns on the new guidelines by the state claiming, that they are "going too far." Under the newly-formed Parent Supported Action Plan, the parents are opposed to the hybrid model of learning, and they want their young kids to attend school for five days a week without being forced to wear face coverings.
COVID-19 Impacts on PreK and K-12 Education in New York
- According to the Washington Post, New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, approved a budget that cut $1.1 billion from K-12 education, with New York City losing $716.9 million as a result of the slash on budget.
- The new budget also eliminated the 3% increase in education funding that the governor had proposed before the pandemic hit.
- Other school districts in New York were affected as follows:
- According to the Education Law Center, the budget cuts affect high-poverty school districts more than any other district.
Reopening of Schools and Parents' Perceptions
- According to a survey conducted on parents in New York, 68% of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that in-person learning should resume this fall, with the appropriate health measure being taken to ensure the safety of students and staff.
- The survey also revealed that close to 20% of the parents disagree or strongly disagree with the idea of resuming in-person learning in New York.
We performed press scans, scoured through federal and state government websites, respective education departments, and reputable news websites to provide the requested information. Since most of the sources lumped together PreK education and K-12 education insights, we decided to present them together, rather than as separate (unless presented that way in the sources we used.)