Week of 3/28: Virtual Variety

This week we add more states to our overview of K-12 enrollment trends between the 2020/21 and 2021/22 academic years. Mask policy changes have plateaued. We also look at end-of-year school calendar changes, and take a look at the resources being spent to enhance virtual learning through ESSER III funds.

This week we add more states to our overview of K-12 enrollment trends between the 2020/21 and 2021/22 academic years.  Mask policy changes have plateaued.  We also look at end-of-year school calendar changes, and take a look at the resources being spent to enhance virtual learning through ESSER III funds. 
For a sample dataset of ESSER III spending plans for 125 school districts with over $3 billion in ESSER III allocations, email dennis@burbio.com or sign up at our ESSER III page.   
Burbio will be attending the ASU+GSV Summit April 4th-6th.  Please reach out if you are attending so we can say hello!
1.  In trends from across the US:
  • Burbio's Mask Policy Tracker is showing 30 districts out of the Top 500 still requiring masks for students as of March 25th.  Durham Public Schools, NC decided to go mask-optional on April 11th, as did San Antonio ISD, TX (effective March 22nd),  South San Antonio ISD, TX (March 28th), Dayton, OH (March 28th) and New Orleans, LA schools (March 21st).  Phoenix Union High School District, AZ will move masks from "required" to "recommended" on April 4th should current Covid-19 trends continue in the district's 32 zip code region.
  • We see frequent references across the US to "Grow Your Own" when referring to the development of new teachers.  This example from McAllen ISD, TX highlights six instructional aides who were awarded grants to become teachers.  
  • Colorado's Department of Public Health issued How Sick is Too Sick? guidelines for determining whether to keep a student at home. 
  • Las Cruces, NM school district is one of eight school districts in the state to join the  "New Mexico Virtual Course Consortium, which is a growing network of public districts that provide courses to students state-wide."
  • Richland County School District One, SC approved a one-time $500 bonus for full-time staff to cover rising fuel costs. 
  • York School District, SC launched a "Reconnecting as One" campaign, announcing "we are reopening our doors to our community and our families.  We believe that the home-school relationship is a vital component to the success of our students, so we invite you back (to) our buildings."

2. This week we have added additional states to our State Enrollment Tracker that shows changes in K-12 public school enrollment in 2021/22 versus 2020/21. 

We will continue to add states and deepen our analysis to the district level in the coming weeks.  To date we have been able to roll-up 40 states plus the District of Columbia.  In the map below, green indicates enrollment increased this academic year, red means it has declined.  Unlabeled gray states are places we don't have aggregate information, and light gray in labeled states means enrollment was flat.    A rollover-version of the map can be found at the bottom of our ESSER III page.  
Enrollment Map 3-27-22

3.  Burbio aggregates a dataset of 80,000+ K-12 school calendars representing over 90% of US K-12 public school students.  Our technology keeps the dataset continually updated, and measures key dates such as first and last day of school, vacations, teacher work days and more.  It is used by partners to measure demand down to the zip code level given the economic impact of local schools.  This week we highlight changes in the last-day-of-school for this calendar year versus year ago.   Over one-third of US K-12 schools have shifted their last day by three days, and over fourteen percent have moved it by a week or more: 

Last Day Changes 3-27-22
4. With in-person school disruptions having dropped dramatically in the last six weeks, we wanted to highlight the role that virtual will continue to play in K-12 education on an ongoing basis.  This week we highlight examples districts' planned investments in virtual learning from across the country from our growing dataset of 3,500+ ESSER III spending plans: 
  • Selma City Schools, AL ($22.7MM) will "purchase K-12 Stride as a virtual option, due to family concerns regarding COVID-19. Selma City does not currently have the capacity to effectively offer multiple modes of instruction to support the various needs of families of scholars. The service will expire September 30, 2024.  Total cost: $400,000."
  • Frederick County Public Schools, MD ($37.9MM) will spend just over $600K on a videoconference center: "In most situations, a laptop with a camera is sufficient to facilitate participation in a videoconference. However, there are many times . . . .  in which multiple participants in a location will be physically in a conference room together while also having remote participants join via videoconference.  . . . .FCPS will use ARP ESSER funds to install a dedicated video conferencing system and screen in a location within each school facility.  This capability will be available to staff and students for the support of instruction, professional learning, collaboration and telehealth requirements."
  • Coachella Valley Unified, CA ($72.8MM) will be spending $2.3MM to "expand independent study for students who are unable or unwilling to return to the classroom setting as a result of the pandemic. Independent Study provides an individualized program of instruction in all academic areas with students in grade Transitional Kindergarten (through) Grade 12. Instruction is conducted using online video conferencing and in-person methods."
  • Kanawha County Schools, WV ($82MM) will be spending $3.3MM over three years for expanded staff and tuition coverage for Virtual Schools and $1.3MM for "expansion of hotspots, Performance Matters (data tracking) software and laptops for new staff being hired to address learning loss. (This) will increase student & teacher access to the internet; all teachers will have continued access to all applicable data  . . . ."
  • Dickson Public Schools, OK ($2MM) will spend $300,000 to "provide wireless access to all families in the district in need of wireless connectivity for Chromebooks for the next 3 years,"  plus  $115,000 on a virtual schooling platform. 
  • Duchesne County School District, UT ($3MM) reports "prior to the 2020/21 school year, DCSD had begun a small supplemental and online curriculum facility called Basin Online  .  . During 2020/21 this facility went from under 100 students to over 500 students. .. . the district scrambled to keep up with demand.   (This year) we anticipate we will have fewer students enrolled in Basin Online but still far more than we did two years ago.  We are looking to build this program and gain accreditation in Basin Online." 
  • Included in the ESSER III plan for Lincoln County School District # 2, WY ($5.6MM) is just over $1MM for "Specific Evidence-Based Interventions (eg., curriculum, assessments): Online/blended learning in elementary and secondary Blended learning facility in district boundaries and staff."
  • Pittsylvania County Schools, VA ($15.4MM) has set aside a portion of funds being used to address Unfinished Learning to "pay for classes purchased through Virtual Virginia to support remote learners for the next three years."
  • York City School District, PA  ($35MM) will be spending $3MM on 17 staffers for the district's Bearcat Cyber Academy.  
  • Laredo ISD, TX ($123MM) will spend $660K over three years for an online learning platform, plus $135,000 over three years for "Online Curriculum for College Readiness Prep." 
  • Mt Vernon Community School Corporation, IN ($1.5MM) will be spending $200,000 to set up virtual teaching labs.

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