Announcing the Coronavirus Education News Initiative: From Remote Learning to Fears About a “COVID Slide,” Why We’re Going Local in Our Coverage of the COVID-19 School Crisis

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A once-in-a-lifetime global health crisis has led to unprecedented closures of the nation’s schools and a tidal wave of concerns surrounding remote teaching, equitable access to course materials, a lost semester of learning and student data, and what could happen if the coronavirus pandemic interrupts yet another school year come autumn.

Here at The 74, we’ve spent the past month processing the chaos being wrought on school communities from coast to coast as students have been dispersed, educators have scrambled to reconceive classrooms and advocates have raised urgent concerns surrounding issues of equity, inclusion, curriculum, safety and standards. We’ve so far published more than 50 interviews, articles, testimonials and essays in our growing Coronavirus Series (you can be among the first to see our latest coverage by signing up for the 74 Newsletter). Our two most widely shared articles from this opening chapter: a profile of students with special needs now facing confusion and uncertainty amid the pandemic, and an urgent warning from education researchers about a possible “COVID slide” that could impact students for years to come.

Today, we’re announcing the creation of a local news initiative to complement and expand upon this national coverage, complete with a new coronavirus vertical that will launch next month at The74Million.org/Coronavirus. To assist with this project, we are hiring a team of crisis correspondents who will offer city-by-city snapshots of how the pandemic is impacting key municipalities, responses from surrounding school systems, innovations being developed and what it all means for the students and families at the center of it all. The new effort will be overseen by Senior Editor Emmeline Zhao and will continue into 2021.

One key coverage area already identified for the initiative will be the District of Columbia and surrounding metro areas — from Prince George’s County, Maryland, to Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia. Other geographies will be announced in the coming weeks. (Want to work with us? See both our senior editor and reporting job listings.)

We’re also continuing to source story ideas, opinion articles and first-person testimonials at our new pandemic email address, coronavirus@the74million.org. Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to write in with your thoughts, discoveries, fears and reflections. With the imminent launch of our new team and vertical, we’ll be able to pursue more of your tips, leads and thoughts. Please keep the messages coming; we check the inbox every day.

Refresh this page, or follow us on Twitter @The74, for further updates on the initiative. For those who haven’t had time to follow our mounting COVID-19 coverage, here’s a handful of our most widely circulated links from the past few weeks:

Education Funding: What the Great Recession tells us about the pandemic downturn to come — Expect declining student performance, widening achievement gaps (Read the full article)

Classroom Innovation: How 18 top charter school networks are adapting to online education, and what other schools can learn from them (Read the full analysis)

Undocumented Families: For undocumented students, coronavirus pandemic brings learning disruptions — and economic panic — with few avenues for help (Read the full report)

The Gap-Year Generation?: Why 2 college access & persistence counselors say they hope the Class of 2020 doesn’t delay their plans (Read the full article)

Families: When siblings become teachers — It’s not just parents who find themselves thrust into the demanding role of at-home educators (Read the profiles)

A Student’s Perspective: We may joke about ‘the Rona’ and virtual graduation, but deep down, we’re scared. Here’s how I learned to manage anxiety in the time of COVID-19 (Read the full essay)

Distance Teaching: ‘We’re doing school in a different way’ — How one nonprofit took the early lead in preparing districts for distance learning (Read the full article)

Equity: Today’s crisis could transform education to create a more equitable, student-centered system for tomorrow (Read the full essay)

Bookmark Our Coverage: Read our latest scoops, interviews, analyses and essays at The74Million.org/Coronavirus

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