ACSI Releases New Findings from Latest COVID-19 Survey of Christian Schools Nationwide
The Association of Christian Schools International is pleased to announce the release of data from its third nationwide survey of Christian schools’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 730 member schools responded to the survey, which was fielded in late November. The report addressed enrollment trends, COVID-19 disruption, distance learning planning and discounts, modifications to sports and other activities, special education and student support, and teacher well-being.
Dr. Lynn Swaner, ACSI Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, Cardus Senior Fellow, and lead author of the report, said the findings of the survey point to the continued adaptability of Christian schools in responding to the pandemic.
“Close to 90% of Christian schools delivered on their promises to open with in-person instruction for the 2020-2021 academic year,” Swaner said, adding that two-thirds of schools also offered distance learning in addition to in-person instruction.
The survey’s findings suggest that schools’ reopening plans were implemented with safety foremost in mind, with input from local health departments, state guidance, and advice of medical personnel ranking the highest influences on school decision-making. This was proven in schools’ widespread use of COVID-19 modifications in the areas of health and safety, scheduling and student cohorts, expanded cleaning, space usage and student activities. In addition, most schools reported zero to minimal disruption from the spread of coronavirus in their school community.
Feedback also shows that most schools will keep current practices in place into the spring, including instructional format (on campus, blended, and/or distance learning) and modifications made for scheduling, space usage, and health and safety. The lack of a major shift in these areas suggests that schools’ reopening plans have been sufficiently suited to operating within the COVID-19 context.
Regarding enrollment trends, close to half of schools reported increases or steady enrollment from the previous year. Even though many schools reported minimal enrollment losses, over 80% reported that they gained students they might not have if it was not for the virus. In addition, over a third of schools reported enrollment increases between the start of school and mid-November.
Qualitative data suggest that this uptick in new student enrollment at Christian schools is due to families’ dissatisfaction with the distance learning or limited on-campus instruction offered by other area schools.
ACSI President, Dr. Larry Taylor, remarked, “This is exciting news, and confirms what we already know—that Christian schools are delivering on their value proposition by providing a high-quality, Christ-centered educational experience that puts the needs of families and students first.”
Survey findings confirmed the pressing need for schools to care for their communities. Three-fourths of respondents stated that, out of all challenges posed by Novel Coronavirus, overwork for teachers and staff brought them the greatest concern. Presumably correlating with this concern, close to 80% of schools reported that they are supporting teacher well-being intentionally this year through additional staffing, increased HR and wellness benefits, professional development, and other means.
The report revealed that many school leaders are already thinking beyond this school year to consider post-pandemic plans. For example, of those schools with distance learning options currently in place, nearly half of them plan to either keep those options or expand them in some way beyond the pandemic.
“Although the tyranny of the COVID-urgent will continue to occupy school leaders and their teams in the spring, it is essential to begin not just looking ahead, but also learning ahead, to the post-COVID future,” Dr. Swaner said. “The goal should be to learn from their experiences and prioritize ongoing innovation and nimbleness in the school’s learning, operational, and financial models to improve missional sustainability into the future.”
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What is ACSI?
Headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., ACSI exists to strengthen Christian schools and equip Christian educators worldwide as they prepare students academically and inspire them to become devoted followers of Jesus Christ. ACSI advances excellence in Christian schools by enhancing the professional and personal development of Christian educators and providing vital support functions for Christian schools through multiple services including teacher and administrator certification, school accreditation, legal/legislative assistance, and curriculum publishing. Serving more than 25,000 schools in 108 countries, ACSI helps more than 5.5 million students worldwide connect to Christian education.
Follow ACSI on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ACSIUSA or on Twitter at @ACSIUSA.
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