About two in 10 U.S. school districts have already adopted, plan to adopt or are considering adopting virtual learning after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new RAND Corporation study.
The survey of district leaders indicates that virtual learning was the innovative practice that most district leaders anticipated would continue, citing both student and parent demand for continuing various forms of online instruction.
District leaders who mentioned plans to continue offer virtual learning and instruction after the COVID-19 pandemic has abated said they want to do so to offer students more flexibility, meet parent or student demand, meet the diversity of students’ needs, and maintain student enrollment.
District leaders were united in their concerns about students’ unequal opportunities to learn during COVID-19, which was among their top-rated challenges for the 2020-2021 school year.
However, in districts where at least 50 percent of students are Black or Hispanic/Latino or at least 50 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch rate, leaders also continued to rank fundamentals like internet and technology access as greatest needs. In contrast, leaders of the remaining districts more heavily emphasized student mental health and high-quality instructional resources rate as greatest needs.