COVID-19 has changed our way of life over the past several months and now as the nation goes back to school during this national health crisis, teachers are essential workers on the front lines of this new challenge.
School reopening plans continue to shift, requiring many teachers to plan for in-person, remote or blended learning, and scrambling to get the resources they will need to be successful in this new learning environment.
DonorsChoose just conducted a survey of 1,000 public school teachers across the country about their feelings, experiences, and expectations for the upcoming school year and found out that:
· 67% of teachers said they feel somewhat or very unsafe returning to the classroom this school year
· 42% of teachers surveyed are expecting to start the year teaching in some sort of blended online/in-person style, 35% of teachers will start the year completely online, 8% are expecting to be in the classroom full time, and 14% are still waiting to find out their school’s plans.
· 79% of teachers told us that the resources they need most for in-person instruction are cleaning supplies and PPE and the resources they need most for online learning are instructional technology to help them teach remotely.
The survey also uncovered worrying signs that COVID-19 will only widen the inequity gap, hurting our nation’s most vulnerable students worst. And, while online learning is a challenge for everyone, 52% of teachers said that fewer than half of their students participated regularly in online learning last spring. But teachers in low-income communities saw lower rates of student engagement than teachers from wealthier communities.
Access to technology and the internet is also a greater challenge for students in low-income communities, despite the fact that 92% of teachers reported their districts providing some technology to students to help facilitate online learning. Teachers in low-income communities were more likely than teachers in wealthier communities to report that most or all of their students were struggling with lack of reliable internet access and difficulty using online tools.
This year marks the 20th back-to-school season for DonorsChoose, the nonprofit education crowdfunding site designed exclusively for teachers. DonorsChoose has raised $1 billion to support classroom teachers, funding 1.7 million requests from 600,000 teachers at 84,000 schools. Teachers at 85% of America’s public schools have created a project request on DonorsChoose and 78% of projects funded support schools with students from low-income communities. On September 16, for one day only, DonorsChoose is marking its 20th anniversary by giving a 50% match to all donations to teachers’ project requests. For example, when a donor gives $20, their donation becomes $30 to help a teacher in need.