Mostly White School Districts More Likely to Have In Person Classes
- By Dian Schaffhauser
has found that school districts with a majority of students who are white were three times more likely to offer in-person learning as
schools that primarily enrolled students of color.
do the study, AP and Chalkbeat surveyed the largest districts in each
of four categories: urban, suburban, town and rural. Responses came
from 677 districts representing 13 million students. Most have begun
school online. Yet, an analysis of the data found that "race is
a strong predictor" of which schools would offer in-person
instruction and which ones wouldn't.
urban schools, at least a quarter of districts that were 75 to 100
percent white intended to start classes in person; for districts with
fewer than 25 percent of white students, the share was less than 5 percent. For suburban districts, the proportion was 31 percent versus
16 percent. For town districts, the proportion was 48 percent versus
25 percent. And for rural districts, it was 44 percent versus 17
the reporting noted, "The higher a district's share of white
students, the more likely it is to offer in-person instruction."
This holds true even for districts that have begun the school year
with the same health guidance in place. For example, in Forrest
County, MS, two school systems separated by a river "are going
in opposite directions." Whereas Hattiesburg
Public School District,
which has a student population that's 90 percent black, is starting
which is 73 percent white, is returning to class in person.
fallout could be major, the reporting pointed out. Students learning
online face a bigger risk of falling behind peers learning in person.
And many will lose "reliable access to free or subsidized meals,
special education services and other in-person support."
the variations? One reason could be politics, the report suggested.
Schools in areas where support for Donald Trump was higher were more
likely to open in person. Also, school officials were responding to
family demands. Polling has shown that parents in black and Latino
populations, which are at greater risk of dying from COVID-19, were
"more likely to be wary" of having their students return to
school in person than white parents." Also, some of the
decisions were made for financial reasons. Districts with more money
could spend some of the funding on improving ventilation, putting
cleaning routines in place and covering the cost of extensive
full story is openly online on
the Chalkbeat website.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.