Urban, High-Poverty Schools Prefer Remote Instruction Under COVID-19, Report Finds

By Alyson Klein — August 27, 2020 1 min read
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School districts in urban areas and those that serve the most children in poverty are the most likely to be offering full-time remote instruction this fall, according to a report released Thursday by the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a Seattle-based research organization.

A little more than a quarter—26 percent—of districts will begin the year fully remote. Another 12 percent will kick-off the year in a hybrid model, where students get a mix of remote and in-person instruction. And 85 percent of districts will offer families the choice to go fully remote, even if that means also offering some in person or hybrid instruction.

For the most part, not many districts are placing a particular priority on offering in-person instruction to specific groups of students. Just 8 percent will offer more in-person time to certain grade levels. If they do, it’s usually the youngest kids. Another 29 percent reported that they’ll try to focus any in-person instruction on vulnerable groups of students, including students in special education and those who were already struggling academically before the virus hit.

And the plans show a clear division between rural districts and urban ones. While 65 percent of rural districts plan to start fully in-person this fall, only 24 percent of suburban districts and 9 percent of urban districts plan to do so. In fact, few urban districts will be offering any in-person instruction at the start of the year. Nearly 4 of every 5 urban districts were planning to start fully remote this fall.

Districts that serve students living in poverty are more likely to start fully remote too. Forty-one percent of the highest poverty districts will be all remote this fall, compared with 25 percent of the lowest-poverty districts.

And district leaders have had the additional headache of planning for a variety of possibilities. Three-quarters of districts drew up plans for both full in-person instruction and full remote instruction, depending on health conditions. And almost half of districts had plans for all three approaches: in-person, remote, and hybrid classes.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.