Week of 11/9: Winter is Here

This week in K-12, we saw the introduction of in-person learning essentially come to a halt due to increasing Covid levels and a slight decrease in "traditional" index due to some districts being shut due to Covid.

This week in K-12, we saw the introduction of in-person learning essentially come to a halt due to increasing Covid levels and a slight decrease in "traditional" index due to some districts being shut due to Covid.

Burbio School Opening Tracker- Map

% US K-12 Students attending 'Virtual only" schools = 37.1%
% US K-12 Students Attending 'Traditional In-person/Every day" schools = 37,5%
% US K-12 Students Attending "Hybrid" Schools = 25.4 %

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, 37.1% of US K-12 students are currently attending schools that offer only virtual plans, 37.5% offering traditional, etc.

Trends and observations:

1) 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 and Sun Belt 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 most of October. However, introduction of in person learning has slowed to an almost imperceptible level. The virtual-only number is now 37.1%, a drop of only 0.1% versus last week and the number of "traditional" K-12 attendees actually dropped slightly to 37.5% from 37.7%

2) As foreseen in earlier summaries, community spread thresholds are now preventing districts attempting in-person openings for the first time. Saginaw, MI was scheduled to introduce PreK-2nd grade in person and pushed it back to January as Covid positive rates in Saginaw County rose to over 7%, increasing 3 percent from the previous week. The Evanston/Skokie School District is pushing back as well as West Orange, NJ. and Valley View, IL. Duluth, MN postponed the return of older students until January. Other districts postponing in-person instruction include Wilkes Barre, PA, District 187 in Lake County, IL., Guilford, County, NC. and Charles County, MD.

3) New in-person openings were limited to small parts of North Carolina, Virgina, Maryland and Delaware and generally in the K-2 age group. As noted last week, we expect near term introduction of in-person learning to begin with the youngest children and/or children with learning issues when it happens at all and it is a priority in the bigger districts that haven't yet opened.

4) Covid related shutdowns moved to bigger districts this week and started to move our indexes. El Paso TX, is now virtual and defines criteria for re-opening based on local hospitalization rates. Elmira, NY is virtual indefinitely while it develops the required testing plan to open while .Corning, NY seems a bit further along and will get back to in-person with younger children after closing. West Bloomfield, MI is now virtual and Hartford, CT moved a portion of it's students to virtual Kildeer County Schools in Illinois remains shut down. Anne Arundel, County, MD ceased it's nascent effort at in-person instruction, which had started with special needs students.

5) A trend we are seeing is schools shifting from in person during the Thanksgiving to December period due to holiday travel and gathering. South Beloit, Illinois is doing this as well as Oshkosh, WI and Holland, MI. This is a variation on a technique being used by colleges across the US - closing campus at Thanksgiving and doing finals virtually and reopening in the New Year to avoid spread related to travel and holiday gatherings.

6) We continue to see signs of active discussion about schools staying open given that in and of themselves they are not seen as sources of Covid spread. Timberlane, NH schools are staying open in the face of rising Covid rates, as is Nahant, MA. and West Hartford, CT schools. Further, we expect to see continued revisions to quarantine regulations, such as this one in South Dakota, as more is learned about transmission.

This recent piece in USA Today gives a great overview of state of school openings and features a citing from Burbio. Burbio 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 Marketplace, 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. an NBC News piece about physical stress of remote learning on children and the USC Center for Health Journalism. NPR highlighted our data in a piece summarizing Fall school openings. and Axios featured Burbio in a piece about the instability of school openings.

CBS featured Burbio data in an interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci and Burbio has been a resource for numerous government organizations, academic researchers, trade associations, think tanks and non-profits.


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