School Instruction in Pennsylvania During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- In-person learning expanded as the 2020–2021 school year progressed.
- Most students were in local education agencies (LEAs) that prioritized students with disabilities for in-person instruction. These LEAs reported that the pandemic made it more difficult to provide special education services.
- Access to reliable Internet connection was a larger barrier to remote and hybrid learning than access to digital devices was, especially in urban areas.
- Most students were in LEAs that adopted a wide range of health and safety measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, although few were in LEAs with regular COVID-19 testing.
The COVID-19 pandemic put unprecedented pressure on Pennsylvania schools to find new ways to educate students amid a worldwide health crisis. Terms like remote learning and hybrid learning became part of everyday language as local education agencies (LEAs) across the commonwealth implemented different approaches to safely deliver instruction and support students’ needs. This research brief describes how Pennsylvania LEAs (defined as school districts and charter schools for purposes of this research) responded to the public health emergency and other challenges during the 2020–2021 school year. Key findings in the brief are based on an online survey the Pennsylvania Department of Education and Mathematica distributed to a representative sample of 200 LEAs during the summer and fall of 2021.