Education Disrupted: 52 Unforgettable Weeks For Students & Schools Captured in 52 Iconic Photos

By Meghan Gallagher | March 11, 2021
QUINCY, MA - SEPTEMBER 17: Students line up on the first day of school at the Lincoln-Hancock Community School in Quincy, MA on September 17, 2020. Thursday was the first day of in-person learning for half of the students (Cohort B) enrolled in the schools hybrid model. The school also offers a fully remote learning program. (Photo by Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

One after another, like a relentless set of dominoes falling, states closed their schools as the pandemic swept across the nation last March. For America’s students and their families, so much has changed and been lost, but somehow also found in the last 52 weeks. Students learned to live without in-person classes, sports, proms, friends and teachers — and to live with remote classes on laptops, in quarantine.

Across the country photographers captured moments of loss, loneliness and fear: In one photo taken during lunch at Woodland Elementary School in Milford, Massachusetts students solemnly sat far apart, unable to socialize with friends. 

They also captured glimmers of hope and humanity: A Stamford, Connecticut teacher taking on the task of caring for a student’s newborn baby brother after his family was infected with the virus. 

Below, 52 striking and unforgettable images framing the year that changed the nation’s schools forever: 

March, 2020

March 20: Schools in Orlando, Florida, closed earlier in the month, but there was hope for a quick return. (Getty Images)
March 24: A teacher from P.S. 124 in New York City conducts remote classes on her laptop from her roof. (Getty Images)
March 12: Frustrated international students protest against MIT’s decision to order them to evacuate campus. (Getty Images)
March 12: A “fauxmencement” for seniors two months early at the Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts. (Getty Images)
March 22: A teen reads a school English assignment at her Brooklyn home after her school shut down. (Getty Images)
March 29: A child dribbles a basketball alone at Waterfront Park in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. (Getty Images)


April 1: High School teacher Emily Olin holds her three-year-old daughter Genevieve on her lap as she taught her classes from her home in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Getty Images)
April 15: A student receives his laptop computer for remote learning in front of Bell High School in Bell, California. (Getty Images)
April 19: UCLA students and other volunteers make face shields for doctors who lacked enough personal protective equipment in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images)
April 28: Public school parking lots are used as testing sites in Compton, California. (Getty Images)


May 1: Stamford, Connecticut, elementary school teacher Luciana Lira teaches remotely from her home while caring for a student’s one-month-old brother after his family contracted the virus. (Getty Images)
May 14: A teacher at P.S. 124 in New York City collects supplies for remote classes. (Getty Images)
May 15: A graduate poses on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. as graduation ceremonies around the country are canceled. (Getty Images)
May 22: A young girl sits inside a painted circle for social distancing in Madison Square Park in New York City. (Getty Images)


June 1: Parent Melissa Smith at a Brookline, Massachusetts, demonstration of high school students, teachers, and parents protesting the layoffs of over 300 teachers. (Getty Images)
June 11: Graduates from Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, California, gather at the Manhattan Beach Pier following their drive-through commencement ceremony. (Getty Images)
June 13: Kenneth High School seniors and family ride a ski lift to the summit of Cranmore Mountain in North Conway, New Hampshire, for graduation. (Getty Images)
June 16: Hundreds of students and community members gathered near downtown Los Angeles, California, calling for the elimination of the LA School Police Department. (Getty Images)


July 27: Members of the Washington D.C. teachers union bring mock body bags to DCPS headquarters depicting what they say will happen if schools reopen. (Getty Images)
July 28: With in-person classes set to resume soon, a protester in Bloomington Indiana objected as the area experienced a dramatic increase in coronavirus infections. (Getty Images)


Aug. 1: Children with and without masks at a playground on New York City’s Upper West Side. (Getty Images)
Aug. 17: Students walk to reopened class at Weaverville Elementary School in Weaverville, California. (Getty Images)
Aug. 27: Seventh graders in a learning pod follow an online class in a home garage in Calabasas, California. (Getty Images)
Aug. 27: After reluctantly deciding to send their 4-year-old daughter Beatrice back to daycare, Sarah McClusky consoles her at their home in Reston, Virginia. (Getty Images)


Sept. 1: Students wearing masks have their temperatures checked before entering Logan Jr. High School in Princeton, Illinois. (Getty Images)
Sept. 3: Natalie Bustamante sits at a socially-distanced desk for her online classes at the Delano Recreation Center in Los Angeles for a program providing low-income families with child care and academic help. (Getty Images)
Sept. 8: University of Virginia senior Ashley Grullon works in her dorm room as in-person classes continue at the University of Virginia. (Getty Images)
Sept. 8: A young girl looks out the school bus window after the first day of school at South Terrace Elementary School in Carlton, Minnesota. (Getty Images)
Sept. 11: Children are spaced apart in a room used for lunch at Woodland Elementary School in Milford, Massachusetts. (Getty Images)


Oct. 1: Demonstrators gather at Washington Square Park in New York City during a ‘Strike for Safe Schools’ as the state reported more than 1,300 new cases of coronavirus. (Getty Images)
Oct. 13: Students wear masks while participating in their dance pod in San Francisco, California. (Getty Images)
Oct. 15: Reading, Pennsylvania, special education teacher Leslie Esterly makes a home visit and works with a student outside the boy’s residence. (Getty Images)
Oct. 21: Students from PS 11 elementary school in New York City participate in outdoor learning on The High Line park. (Getty Images)


Nov. 9: Guadalupe Duran sprays disinfectant in the school library at Lupine Hill Elementary School in Calabasas, California, one of the first schools to reopen in L.A. County. (Getty Images)
Nov. 9: Guadalupe Duran sprays disinfectant in the school library at Lupine Hill Elementary School in Calabasas, California, one of the first schools to reopen in L.A. County. (Getty Images)
Nov. 12: Karen Carter teaches 4&5 year olds at Bushnell Way elementary school in Calabasas, California, from her dining-room-turned-kindergarten. (Getty Images)
Nov. 19: Children protest demanding that public schools remain open outside New York’s City Hall. (Getty Images)


Dec. 5: Camden High School students — some maskless — cheer on their team in Columbia, South Carolina. (Getty Images)
Dec. 7: Children outside their Brooklyn, New York City school as they wait for class on the first day of school reopening. (Getty Images)
Dec. 11: Exeter High School cheerleaders in Reiffton, Pennsylvania, wearing masks at a basketball game. (Getty Images)
Dec. 17: Parents and students in Santa Monica, California, demand that children go back to school after the district closed schools for the rest of the academic year. (Getty Images)


Jan. 5: A sign on the gym door at Newton South High School in Concord, Massachusetts, reads “No Spectators Allowed, Thank You” during a high school basketball game. (Getty Images)
Jan. 6: Members of the Magnificent Monarchs, a class for young children at Boston, Massachusetts, Nature Center play in the mud and along the boardwalk during their school day. (Getty Images)
Jan. 19: Christina Pagan, 7, does her school work at the Olivet Boys and Girls Club in Reading, Pennsylvania. (Getty Images)
Jan. 29: Encino, California, teacher Lily Gottlieb waits on a standby line hoping to receive leftover COVID-19 vaccine doses that would otherwise expire and be tossed out. (Getty Images)


Feb. 2: First grade student Felix Fuchs with his Mom Kate Fuchs waits to have his temperature taken when he arrives at Alta Vista Elementary School in Redondo Beach, California. (Getty Images)
Feb. 2: Hundreds march to San Francisco, California, City Hall demanding schools reopen for in-person classes. (Getty Images)
Feb. 17: In Los Angeles, California, Grand High School teaching assistant Alfredo R. Fong and bus driver Devan Nanayakkara, wait before receiving their COVID-19 vaccination as school district employees received their first dose of the vaccine. (Getty Images)
Feb. 26: Culver City High School starting quarterback Zevi Eckhausruns drills with the receivers during their first official football practice in Culver City, California, after the 11-month school shutdown. (Getty Images)


March 1: Rene Urey, a Los Angeles school district special education assistant gets the COVID-19 vaccine aboard a school bus. (Getty Images)
March 1: Hailey Van Zeyl ties a ribbon for her father, Robert, who died from the virus, at a COVID-19 memorial in Hauppauge, New York. (Getty Images)
March 2: UNICEF unveils “Pandemic Classroom” exhibit at United Nations Headquarters in New York City to raise awareness about the more than 168 million children globally without access to in-person learning for nearly a full year. (Getty Images)

Lead Image: Students line up on the first day of school at the Lincoln-Hancock Community School in Quincy, Massachusetts, on Sept. 17 (Getty Images)

Get stories like these delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for The 74 Newsletter

Republish This Article

We want our stories to be shared as widely as possible — for free.

Please view The 74's republishing terms.

On The 74 Today