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A Breakdown of the AASA COVID-19 Survey: Response and Communications

As K-12 educators are adapting to the new remote and digital teaching world with the shut down of thousands of school districts across the country, this new reality has been a learning curve. In response to the coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic the School Superintendents Association, or AASA, conducted a nationwide survey to gather real-time data from districts in order to capture what this evolving crisis means to schools and their communities.

The survey released is collecting real-time data on the following: 

  • How schools are responding to the crisis;
  • The information and resources school district leaders are relying on;
  • The long-term potential implications for state and federal policymakers as superintendents consider how best to support the school districts they serve.

Related Blog: Managing Mental Health Remotely For K-12 Schools

This survey was distributed and received more than 1,600 responses from 48 states between March 13, 2020, through March 25, 2020. Below are some of the findings, although the report represents the first in a series of studies the AASA plans to release about the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 Response and Communications

Of the respondents, here is a breakdown of how this portion of the survey was answered:

  • More than three-quarters (79%) of respondents indicated their districts have plans in place to respond to pandemic
  • When asked to describe their district’s status as it relates to COVID-19
    • 90% replied ‘closed’, compared to ‘operating with normal schedule’
    • 2% replied ‘considering closing our schools’
    • 2% replied, ‘We do not plan to close our schools and will only do so under state mandate.’
  • When asked what types of communication they are using to relay information to their employees, students, parents and community:
    • 97% replied ‘website’
    • 91% replied ‘social media’
    • 67% replied ‘text message platform’
    • 67% replied ‘robocalls’
    • 50% replied ‘emailed/paper notes home’
    • 41% of respondents replied ‘decentralized communication from principals/building leaders’
    • 36% replied ‘local newspaper’
    • 36% replied ‘school board meetings’
    • 26% replied ‘district newsletter’
    • 21% replied ‘local radio’
    • 14% replied ‘local television’
    • 5% replied ‘other’
    • 2% replied ‘town halls/forums’
  • When asked what types of information are being included in communications to staff, students, parents and community:
    • 80% replied ‘status of district decision-making process’
    • 80% replied ‘Non-academic considerations related to school closure (transportation, student safety, access to food, etc.)’
    • 79% replied ‘district scheduling’
    • 78% replied ‘efforts to increase school and student sanitation and hygiene practices while in school’
    • 73% replied ‘recommendations from state authorities’
    • 58% replied ‘recommendations from federal authorities’
    • 52% replied ‘status of COVID-19 exposure in your district/state’
    • 16% replied ‘information on action by other school districts’
    • 15% replied ‘timing/location of public meetings related to decision making’
    • 5% of respondents replied ‘other’
  • When asked if they are aware of any known cases in their state or community
    • 83% replied ‘yes’
    • 17% replied ‘no’
  • When asked how a prolonged closure would impact their school calendar:
    • 48% replied ‘extend school year’
    • 46% replied ‘other’
    • 29% replied ‘revert unused snow days’
    • 21% replied ‘cancel spring break’
    • 18% replied ‘cancel teacher prep days’
    • 17% replied ‘run summer school programming for all’
  • When describing which factors influenced their decision whether to close schools or keep them open:
    • 84% replied ‘recommendation from state health agency’
    • 82% replied ‘recommendation from state education agency’
    • 81% replied ‘state policy/declared emergency’
    • 75% replied ‘recommendation from local health 2 agency’
    • 69% replied ‘COVID-19 in my community’
    • 66% replied ‘COVID-19 confirmed in one of my students’
    • 61% replied ‘importance of isolation/quarantine to help prevent spread’
    • 59% replied ‘staff absences’
    • 43% replied ‘indication from state/federal policy makers re flexibility around significant/prolonged closure and impact on attendance’
    • 37% replied ‘students rely on schools for meal access’
    • 31% replied ‘not all parents will be able to stay home with kids’
    • 29% replied ‘not all students will have a safe environment during the day if school is closed’
    • 29% replied ‘compensating staff if closure exceeds allocated/available sick leave’
    • 19% replied ‘ability of school calendar to adjust to prolonged closure’
    • 16% replied ‘if students will end up in a separate communal setting like day care or day camp when school is closed, why not keep them in school so learning can happen?’
    • 7% replied ‘other’
  • Nearly all (96%) respondents indicated their districts have sent information materials related to COVID-19 to students, families and staff.
  • More than half of respondents (57%) agreed/strongly agreed with the statement ‘COVID-19 has decreased student attendance in my district.’ compared to 42% who agreed/strongly agreed to the statement ‘COVID-19 has decreased staff attendance in my district’.

According to AASA, the data from the survey will be used to track how school districts are responding to COVID-19, describe how ed-technology is helping or impeding districts' ability to deliver curriculum and instruction, to detail the fiscal impact of COVID-19 on our public school system, and use this information with superintendents and on Capitol Hill.

For those who want to participate in the survey, click here.

Takeaways from COVID-19 Response and Communications Replies

As this survey was conducted toward the beginning of March there have been a lot of changes made in several states and the majority of schools are now working remotely to teach students from home. The 4% of respondents who answered either ‘considering closing our schools’ or ‘We do not plan to close our schools and will only do so under state mandate’ may be a different number now that we’re into the month of April.

It was interesting to see the breakdown of the way’s schools were communicating with parents, staff, and students. A huge number of respondents replied that their school website and social media were the top ways to relay information, with text messaging and robocall platforms coming in below.

By utilizing technology such as a mass notification system, both texts and calls can be made, as well as social media and RSS feeds. Educators should take a look at the school notification platform they have in place and see if there are more capabilities that could be helpful during this crisis.

Universal - K-12 Coronavirus Response Solution Prod Sheet

Tara Gibson
Tara Gibson

Tara is a Marketing Coordinator on the Rave Mobile Safety marketing team. She loves writing about all things K-12, State & Local, Higher Ed, Corporate, and Healthcare, and manages the Rave social media channels. When she's not working, she's taking care of her smiley, shoe eating, Instagram-famous fur baby, Enzo!

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