The COVID-19 epidemic presents unprecedented challenges to our nation’s K-12 education system. The rush to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic led to closures of schools across the country with little time to assure continuity of instruction or to create a framework for deciding when and how to reopen schools. States and districts are now grappling with responding to the rapidly changing situation while also trying to address the consequences of disruptions to schooling and maintain the health and safety of students and staff.
School systems will need guidance as the trajectory of the pandemic and its after-effects unfolds and communities respond to medical, social and political cross-pressures. Planning and decisions by education leaders and policy makers should be informed by the best available evidence. In response to this need for evidence-based guidance, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine will convene an ad hoc committee and release a report that will inform education leaders as they address urgent school operations issues, respond to critical student needs, and plan for the future.
The Committee to Provide Guidance to K-12 Education on Responding to COVID-19 will provide states and districts with guidance about whether and how to safely reopen schools in the 2020-2021 school year. A 6-8 member committee will write a short letter report drawing on evidence from epidemiology, public health, and the social and behavioral sciences. The report will provide guidance on the health-related issues for safely reopening schools and the practices that should be implemented in order to maintain and monitor the health of staff and students. This report will address questions that have emerged from the planning efforts of state and district officials which are currently underway. The project will be under the supervision of Natacha Blain, JD, PhD, Board Director, Board on Children, Youth and Families at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.