There are an estimated 98,000 public schools and at least 34,000 private schools situated across the US, according to the National Centre for Education Statistics. Combined, these schools educate almost 50.8 million public school students, and 5.8 million private school students.
The response of educational institutions to the Coronavirus has been a focal point in media reports across the United States since early March. The US Department of Education has released guidance and resources on a regular basis, taking steps to prevent the spread of the virus among communities and beyond, leading to the closure of at least 124,000 schools across 48 states of the US and affecting more than 55.1 million students in total.
The status of closure for schools across the United States
Currently the only two states in the US whose closure regulations have expired are Montana and Wyoming; both of which have left the ongoing closure status of each school to the discretion of its local district and the school itself.
A state ordered closure is currently in play in schools across 41 states. These closures will remain in placed until the end of academic year at the earliest. A further 8 states are, for the most part, following recommended state closures.
Responding to the closure of schools
The following guidelines were released by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to aid parents through the period of closure:
- Watch your child for signs of COVID-19 illness
- Reinforce and education your children on preventative actions to maintain their health
- Help children stay active outside
- Help children stay socially connected
- Watch for signs of stress
- If necessary, ask your school about school meal provisions.
Read more about the available resources for schools, colleges and universities here.
Higher education in the United States: the response of Colleges and Universities
The higher education system in the United States is more international than ever, with many colleges and universities accepting multiple international students every year – in numbers, up to 1 million of the United States’ 19 million higher education students come from overseas, with China providing the highest percentage of overseas students.
In early March, the CDC were already making recommendations for the cancellation of study abroad and foreign exchange programs, to try and combat the spread of the virus. One of the most poignant ways that this has been supported is through the cancellation of in-person lessons across the States, leading to other changes which include:
- Moving classes online
- Cancelling travel programs and working experiences
- Providing additional support to Chinese students who can’t leave the States
- Issuing regular health warning and guidelines
- Planning for further changes and disruptions to learning
As such, most campuses, colleges, and universities are sitting empty across the United States; with courses continuing online and students studying from home.
Relieving the financial challenges that Colleges and Universities face
It has been predicted that educational institutions, which are spending more and more money to move courses online and offer refunds for tuition and boarding, are going to continue to lose revenue as the closures stretch on. Some may have to close, while others will struggle to financially recover when the Coronavirus threat is over. Read more about the threat to colleges here.
The Federal Government pledged $14 billion in support aid to colleges and universities as part of the CARES Act relief package, though many have argued that this is not enough.