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EdWeek Graphic: Visualizing the School Shutdown Wave

By Evie Blad — March 17, 2020 1 min read
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A majority of states have ordered their schools closed as the nation rushes to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, hoping to blunt its potential to overwhelm medical resources.

It can be difficult to visualize the sheer scale of this wave, affecting tens of thousands of schools and tens of millions of students..

Since the very first schools announced closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Education Week has been updating an interactive map several times a day to show the shifting scale of the response. Here are some charts that help show the tremendous growth in our data since Friday, when state after state took action and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released long-awaited guidance on school closures.

As of noon Tuesday, we found that 74,000 public schools had been closed or were scheduled to close in response to virus concerns. The data show a slow trickle of closures at first and then a steep spike as the response grew, transitioning to a broad scale preventative strategy.

For perspective, there are 98,277 public schools in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Those closures affected at least 38.8 million of the nearly 50.8 million public school students in the United States, according to the noon Tuesday update.

State and district readers have suggested that many schools that extended their spring breaks or closed for shorter, two-week periods may extend those closures, even through the end of the school year. And some education groups, like teachers’ unions, have pushed for such drastic measures to contain the virus.

Explore Education Week’s Map of Coronavirus and School Closures, which we will continue to update as more states, districts, and schools respond.

See Education Week’s complete coverage of the coronavirus and schools