The number of K-12 students who are only receiving virtual-only instruction has been dropping over the last few weeks since reaching a peak in early January, hitting a low not seen since November.
As of Monday, according to Burbio, a community events data service that tracks school openings, just more than one-third (35.2%) of K-12 students are attending school virtually and do not have an in-person option. That reflects a 3% drop since the previous week, and the data service had recorded a low of around 37% in early November. Slightly more (39.7%) are taking part in in-person-only instruction, and one-quarter of K-12 students (25.1%) are participating in hybrid schooling.
In the past month, Burbio reports an “almost-universal” move of schools that were in-person as of November returning to that mode. Meanwhile, parts of the country that had been "always virtual" (had not offered in-classroom instruction since the pandemic started) began introducing students for the first time over the last two weeks.
Burbio cites examples in some regions where only virtual instruction has been offered. Out east, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam called on all K-12 schools in the state to make in-person learning available by March 15, according to a news release from Northam's office. Erie’s Public Schools in Pennsylvania and Warren Consolidated Schools in Michigan brought some students back into the classroom through a hybrid program for the first time this year, according to the districts' websites.
Additionally, in the midwest, Milwaukee (Wis.) Public Schools will start in-person learning on April 12, according to the district’s website, and the Des Moines Register reported on Jan. 29 that Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law requiring in-person instruction as an option in schools by Feb. 15.
On the west coast, in California, the city of San Francisco has sued the San Francisco Unified School District and Board of Education to force schools to reopen, according to NBC Bay Area.
Burbio also notes spotting in its district-level audits a potentially significant change in the educational landscape with the expansion of summer school programs and continued virtual-only options in the 2021-22 school year. The StarTribune reports that school administrators in the state of Minnesota may use some COVID-19 relief funds to target "learning loss" resulting from the pandemic with after-school and weekend programs and expanded summer school offerings. Dallas Independent School District is considering extending its school year to mitigate learning loss, according to its website, and Los Angeles Unified School District is considering adding 10 instructional days to its 2021-22 school year, EdSource reports.
In related news, the data service is adding another map to its K-12 School Opening Tracker that illustrates statewide in-person instruction indexes.