As part of the GRI Whitepaper Series, GRI has released 10 Special Investigation Reports supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These reports bring together analysis and policy recommendations in cross-cutting critical areas including municipal and state budgets, housing, food, healthcare, K-12 education, childcare, higher education, small business, energy, and fisheries. Each sector-specific report was authored by subject matter experts of these areas from GRI’s Northeastern Faculty Affiliates and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory, providing an in-depth, accessible review of the challenges, opportunities and actionable policy considerations in each area facing the COVID-19 crisis.
New England’s K-12 schools are critical anchor institutions that serve some of the most important functions in our communities. Elementary and secondary education’s primary function is youth academic development, through the cognitive, social-emotional, and physical development of children. However, to foster educational success, schools also function as a social service provider to children and their families. The vital role schools play was disrupted when K-12 education shifted online in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The absence of physical school has left many communities uncertain about how best to deliver both educational and social welfare services. This special investigation report considers the key impacts of COVID-19 on the educational sector as it relates to the economic implications for families, communities, and states in New England. Furthermore, this report emphasizes the uneven and unequal impacts of COVID-19 experienced by vulnerable populations. Below, we highlight key intersecting issues and constituents that should be considered in the development and implementation of practices, programs, and policies that support the future of K-12 education during this pandemic and beyond.