Teaching Profession Photos

What Education Looked Like in 2020

By Jaclyn Borowski — December 31, 2020 1 min read
On Sept. 24, 2020, distance learners are seen on a laptop held by teacher Kristen Giuliano who assists student Jane Wood, 11, in a seventh-grade social studies class at Dodd Middle School in Cheshire, Conn. Many schools around the state have closed temporarily during the school year because of students or staff testing positive for COVID-19. Within the first week of November 2020, nearly 700 students and more than 300 school staff around Connecticut tested positive, according to the state Department of Public Health.
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It started like any other year. At Education Week, our photographers spent January largely focused on capturing the work of our 2020 crop of Leaders to Learn From in their school communities. But looking back across the entire year, the photos that stood out in January, are not the ones that seem noteworthy now. In hindsight, it’s the personal interactions, the shared moments (and shared school supplies), the groups of students working together that look unique, contrasted with what was to come. Join us in a look back at what education really looked like in the United States over the twelve months of 2020.

JANUARY
Jana Beth Francis, center, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching & Learning for Daviess County Schools, discusses a science project with Elias Cook, left, and other fourth grade students at Burn Elementary in Owensboro, Kentucky on Jan. 23, 2020.
Students gather in a hallway at Rose F. Baldwin Elementary School in Baldwin, N.Y., on Jan. 13, 2020.
Nellie Aspel, Executive Director of Exceptional Children for Cleveland County Schools in Shelby, N.C., hugs fourth-grader Ty McDowell in the Therapeutic Support and Intervention Class at James Love Elementary School on Jan. 23, 2020.

FEBRUARY
Seniors Jazmine Duff, 18, right, and India Willis, 17, left, look over a document as they wait in line to vote early with other students from Walter Hines Page High School at the Bur-Mill Park Clubhouse polling station in Greensboro, N.C., on Feb. 28, 2020. Guilford County schools offer students a chance to vote for credit in their civics courses and busses them to the polls to register and vote in North Carolina's early voting period ahead of Super Tuesday. North Carolina allows 17-year-olds to vote in the primary if they will be 18 by election day in November.
Third-graders start an art lesson at Centerville Elementary School on Feb. 14, 2020 in Virginia Beach, Va.
Deluxe Badesi (left), Jima Munanga, and Oliver Alimasi play back tracks of music they created at Electro Hiphop class in the tech center at Burlington High School on Feb. 19, 2020 in Burlington, Vt.

MARCH
Sara Black, a teacher at Glen Lea Elementary School in Henrico County near Richmond, Va., hugs a student goodbye on Friday, March 13, 2020. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday ordered all schools in Virginia to close for at least two weeks as the coronavirus spreads, a move that follows similar orders in several other states.
Discovery Elementary School in the Mukilteo School District in Washington, seen on March 2, 2020, is closed due to coronavirus concerns.
The Auburn fan section got creative by placing paper plate faces on the seats during the Class 1C boys high school basketball tournament championship game against Ogallala at Pinnacle Bank Arena on March 14, 2020, in Lincoln, Neb. Crowds were limited to staff and immediate family due to concerns over the coronavirus.
Cafeteria worker Debra Thompson pushes a cart full of food to distribute a free lunch to the students and community at Dillard High School amid the virus outbreak and school closings on March 16, 2020, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Desmond Peskowitz, 7, of Takoma Park, Md., pours a stream of water on his head from his boot, March 17, 2020, as he plays a game he called "champagne fight," inspired by Formula 1 Racing, with his mother Kathleen Caulfield, and sister Erin Peskowitz, 4, in Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C.. Desmond's school is closed due to coronavirus precautions, and his mother said the park was their "PE class" today. "I don't worry as much about germs when they're outside," says Caulfield, "the touching seems to be less when kids play outdoors."

APRIL
A reminder for people to wash their hands is displayed on a sign outside Theodore Judah Elementary School in Sacramento, Calif., on April 1, 2020. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California schools will likely remain closed for the rest of the school year, but provide off-site education due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In this photo from April 13, 2020, Nancy Quillen, 13, interacts with Rene Ford, right, principal of McCarthy Teszler School, at her home in Spartanburg, S.C. Special education students are dealing with the challenges of learning from home as teachers work with parents who are trying to recreate the level of assistance and stimulation their children receive at school in their homes.
A school bus moves up Rock Door Canyon Rd., in Oljato-Monument Valley, Utah, on the Navajo reservation on April 27, 2020. The Navajo reservation has some of the highest rates of coronavirus in the country. If Navajos are susceptible to the virus' spread in part because they are so closely knit, that's also how many believe they will beat it.
Amy Pollington, a kindergarten teacher, virtually meets with her students at her home in Renton, Wash., on April 21, 2020.
Bella Johnson, a sixth-grade student at Westmore Elementary School in Orem, Utah, jumps in a gorilla suit while her sister, Hannah Johnson, holds a sign for teachers as they parade around Alpine School District neighborhoods to show support for their students on April 13, 2020.

MAY
Principal and District Superintendent Bonnie Lower takes the temperature of a student at Willow Creek School as the school reopened on May 7, 2020, in Willow Creek, Mont. The school opened its doors to a couple dozen students to finish out the final two and a half weeks of the school year.
Grayson Hodgman, 6, a kindergartner at Hinsdale Elementary School, in Hinsdale, N.H., puts hearts up on the window at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, in Brattleboro, Vt., as a nurse watches through the window on May 8, 2020. The hearts were part of a class project that required the students to hang up hearts in a visible area for essential workers to see.
Third grade teacher Liz Magnuson takes one last look at her empty classroom at Rosa Parks Elementary in Sioux Falls, S.D., on May 15, 2020 before leaving for the summer.
Alayshia Baggett, left, hands out homemade face masks as she rides with a graduation cap and tassel on her car May 12, 2020, during a drive-up car parade to distribute caps and gowns to seniors graduating from the Tacoma School District's School of the Arts High School, which has been conducting classes online due to the coronavirus pandemic. All high schools in the district will hold virtual graduation ceremonies, so the event, which required students to stay in their cars, allowed them to be greeted by cheering teachers and administrators one more time before graduation.
Hundreds of people gather at the Dwight Pete Mitchell Center, in downtown Benton Harbor, Mich., on May 31, 2020, for a peaceful protest over police brutality and the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

JUNE
Graduating seniors Shamar Poole, 17, left; Amier Hatcher, 17, center; and Fendi Garth, 18, stand with their fists raised in the air in solidarity alongside the school's rock painted "BLM" for Black Lives Matter at Grand Blanc High School on June 4, 2020, before their commencement ceremony in Mundy Township, Mich. The trio stood together to honor George Floyd, urge an end to racial injustices and police violence.
Demonstrators shout slogans June 9, 2020, in Culver City, Calif., during a student-led protest over the death of George Floyd who died May 25 after he was restrained by Minneapolis police.
Protestors rally against the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in New York City. Floyd's death was captured in video that went viral.
Jaylen Lee, 4, rides his scooter and looks at signs hanging on a police fence at 16th and H Street on June 9, 2020, with his mother, near the White House in Washington D.C., after days of protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis.
Brian Gardener, left, wears his middle school graduation cap and gown as he kneels with demonstrators in remembrance of George Floyd on June 13, 2020, near the White House in Washington, D.C..

JULY
Marilyn Linares, a bus driver with the Montgomery County School District, helps load a bus with bags of food to be donated to residents on July 10, 2020, in Derwood, Md.
John Ross and his son, David, talk about their concerns for school reopening in the fall in light of the coronavirus pandemic and the way their limited internet access will hinder home instruction, in Beattyville, Ky., on July 29, 2020. “They’re going to have their education,” the father of three said of his determination to get his children back to school after they struggled to do their work this spring over a spotty cellphone connection.
Protesters in the "Million Unmasked March" try to overshadow a counter protest across the street from the Illinois State Capitol, on July 25, 2020, in Springfield, Ill. The protesters gathered in front of the Abraham Lincoln Statue to voice their opposition to guidelines that children be required to wear face masks when they return to school during the coronavirus pandemic.
Corinth Elementary School students have their temperature checked by a thermal scanner as they arrive for their first day back to school on July 27, 2020 in Corinth, Miss.
In this Aug. 6, 2020 photo, Diane Floyd, a seventh grade math teacher at Guntown Middle School, goes over the daily schedule and bell times with her new students on their first day back to school for the Lee County District in Guntown, Miss. As schools reopen around the country, their ability to quickly identify and contain coronavirus outbreaks before they get out of hand is about to be put to the test.

AUGUST
Spencer Hollers works to equip Southside Independent School District buses with wifi on Aug. 13, 2020, in San Antonio, Texas. Southside will begin the year with remote teaching and will place the wifi-equipped buses around the school district to help students without access to the internet.
A coalition of teachers, students, and families protest during a rally called National Day of Resistance Against Unsafe School Reopening on Aug. 3, 2020, in New York City. Organizers said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio, Chancellor Richard Carranza, and the Department of Education must stop the in-person reopening of schools until it is safe for all.
Israel, 5, front, wears a face shield over his mask in a Kindergarten classroom, where students are seated at a social distance and a student is tuning in via Zoom on the first day of school at Hillel Academy in Tampa, Fla., on August 12, 2020. The school's faculty planned a ''Wizard of Oz'' themed welcome to ease students into the new precautions in place amid the coronavirus pandemic. Students had their temperatures checked and were asked to wear masks and apply hand sanitizer before entering the school.

SEPTEMBER
Students wear protective masks as they arrive for classes at the Immaculate Conception School while observing coronavirus prevention protocols on Sept. 9, 2020, in New York City.
Demonstrators arrive at the Governor's Mansion to protest the cancellation of fall and winter extracurriculars on Sept. 7, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. All in-person activities were suspended this month as the district's classroom instruction remains virtual.
Helina Thorp, right, 14, expresses frustration while unsuccessfully trying to log in to her school distance-learning classes while her mother, Virginia Thorp, attempts to call school officials from a Pacific Gas & Electric community resource center at the El Dorado Fairgrounds during a Public Safety Power Shutoff in Placerville, Calif., on Sept. 8, 2020. People in nearly 172,000 homes and businesses in parts of California were sweltering Tuesday without electricity as Pacific Gas & Electric intentionally shut off power to prevent wildfires amid high winds.
Jemma Malkasian teaches a virtual music class at Norristown Area High School, in Norristown, Pa., on Sept, 3, 2020. Malkasian stood in front of her laptop and waved her arms, exhorting her orchestra students to act out "presto," the musical notation meaning "very quickly." "I don't see anyone moving," she said. Her connection was glitchy, and the students kept freezing on screen.
Distance learners are seen on a laptop held by teacher Kristen Giuliano who assists student Jane Wood, 11, in a seventh-grade social studies class at Dodd Middle School in Cheshire, Conn on Sept. 24, 2020. Many schools around the state have closed temporarily during the school year because of students or staff testing positive for the coronavirus.

OCTOBER
Social worker Victoria Dominguez, background right, delivers supplies she collected at Cuba High School, along a rural school bus route outside Cuba, N.M., on Oct. 19, 2020. The switch to remote learning in rural New Mexico has left some students profoundly isolated — cut off from others and the grid by sheer distance. The school system is sending school buses to students’ far-flung homes to bring them assignments, meals and a little human contact.
Teacher Sherisa Nailor helps Parker Drawbaugh and Jacob Knouse in their Small Animal Science class at Big Spring High School in Newville, Pa. With the school operating in a hybrid system, teachers work to make their in-person lessons as hands-on and interactive as possible.
Alondra Gonzales, 4, and Matthew Ramirez, 4, carry their meals in a small wagon back to their house in Concord, Calif. on Oct. 21, 2020. In an effort to reach more members of their community that are in need of food assistance, Mt. Diablo Unified School District has begun a School Bus Meal Distribution plan in which school bus drivers are taking upwards of 75 meals and delivering them to the community along designated routes. The hope is that this new plan will help families who were previously unable to get access to the schools to pick up meals for their children. Currently the program is giving out approximately 7,000 meals a week to families in the community.

NOVEMBER
Emma Wasiloski, 13, right, an eighth-grader at North Heights Christian Academy who plays for Concordia Academy's C volleyball team, cries in the arms of her mother, MaryBeth Wasiloski, after hearing the news that the volleyball season would be paused by the governor's orders on Nov. 18, 2020, in Roseville, Minn. "I don't know what I'm going to look forward to," said Emma. "Because school isn't fun anymore."
A student demonstrates during a rally to call on New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to keep schools open on Nov. 14, 2020, in New York. Students, parents and teachers continued anxiously watching New York City's coronavirus test results as the latest figures fell under the city's threshold for shutting down school buildings, but Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that the city was at a "crucial" point in fighting the virus' resurgence.
Students from Hesston Middle School hold class at the Cross Winds Convention Center in Hesston, Kan., on Nov. 6, 2020. In ordinary times, the convention center hosts weddings, corporate retreats and church events. During the pandemic, it has become a schoolhouse for the district's seventh and eighth-graders.

DECEMBER
In this Monday, Dec. 8, 2020 photo, a fourth-grade class uses upside-down buckets for seats as they study outside at the Gerald Talbot School, in Portland, Maine. The outdoors is considered to be the healthiest, safest place for kids during the pandemic.
Penny Cracas, right, with the Chester County, Pa., Health Department, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Dando, a school nurse, at the Chester County Government Services Center on Dec. 29, 2020, in West Chester, Pa.
Danielle Myers leads her fourth grade class in a mindfulness exercise at the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pa., on Dec. 2, 2020. The private boarding school has implemented daily in-classroom “mindfulness” breaks where teachers and students, led by the school’s psychology staff, participate in social/emotional learning lessons to boost teacher morale and address the challenges of pandemic life.

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A version of this article first appeared in the Full Frame blog.

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