By Karen Gross, Teachers College Press, March 20, 2020
Just as we are hearing about positive research efforts to combat the coronavirus in the relative near term, we are learning that some statewide school systems may stay closed through the end of the 2019–2020 school year. As of this writing, one state—Kansas—has affirmatively closed all its schools until the next academic year. Other states will likely follow in the coming days, including California, Arizona and Texas.
The critical question is what effect these closures will have on students, parents and guardians, teachers, staff, and administrators over the near and long term. What follows are some of my observations regarding what these school closings will mean in real terms to students across the PreK–6 pipeline.
What’s offered here are only predictions (albeit informed ones based on existing data on educational outcomes) because we haven’t yet experienced anything like this in our lifetimes. After identifying issues, the necessary next step is to ask how to ameliorate the problems that are likely to occur, now and in the months to come. That question is touched upon here but must be addressed at greater length in a follow-up piece.