PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A new digital platform founded by a Brown University economist is providing educators, policymakers and researchers with the most comprehensive data available to date on the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has affected K-12 public schools across the United States.
The COVID-19 School Data Hub, launched on Wednesday, Sept. 15 by Brown professor Emily Oster and a team of research colleagues, provides a detailed, school-by-school look at which schools and districts operated in person, virtually or in hybrid mode throughout the 2020-21 school year; how COVID-19 case rates rose and fell during that time; and, in some cases, how the pandemic affected enrollment and standardized test scores.
In addition to providing families and community leaders with clear information on how the pandemic continues to impact K-12 education, it is designed to help researchers answer crucial questions for the months and years ahead — including how in-person, remote and hybrid learning environments have affected students’ mental and physical health, parents’ work and personal lives, and more.
Oster said she was motivated to create a data hub after it became clear that neither federal nor state governments were providing what she viewed as critical information on which schools were reopening or not, whether and when they experienced rises in COVID-19 cases, and how enrollment changed over the course of the pandemic.
“The pandemic has affected everything from learning loss to students’ mental and physical health to the employment status of parents,” Oster said. “And yet when we try to quantify its impact on these things, we’re driving around with one headlight, or no headlights. Some states have collected this data; some haven’t… We have federal data on school operations for only the largest districts in the country... That’s really crazy. We need good information on this to guide the decisions we’re going to make in the year ahead.”