Earlier this month, we released our REL Mid-Atlantic report from a study of school climate in Pennsylvania, conducted in partnership with the Office of Safe Schools at the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). The report examined a handful of Pennsylvania schools that administered the state’s (voluntary) school climate survey before, during, and after the 2020/21 school year, when schools had to operate much of the year remotely or in a hybrid mode that mixed remote and in-person instruction. Our partners at PDE wanted to understand how school climate might have changed during and after the school year that was most disrupted by the pandemic.
Spoiler alert: the findings were not what we expected. Despite the disruption the COVID-19 pandemic created and the enormous challenges associated with moving instruction fully or partly online, students and teachers alike reported healthier school climates (on average) during 2020/21 than in the years preceding or following. Students reported experiencing a school climate that was safer, more respectful, more supportive, and more caring. They also reported students in their school had stronger social-emotional skills. Similarly, teachers rated the climate as safer and more respectful and indicated students had stronger social-emotional skills. A year later, in 2021/22, both students and teachers reported school climate dropping back to levels seen before the pandemic.
What should we make of this apparent COVID boost for school climate, given the myriad reports of an epidemic of loneliness and a decline in youth mental health when school buildings were closed?
Continue reading on the REL Mid-Atlantic blog.