What will K-12 education look
like in fall 2020 and beyond?
To answer this question, DLR Group developed an engagement survey to understand from our clients’ point of view the challenges they are currently facing, obstacles they foresee in the immediate future, and long-term implications COVID-19 will have on the industry.
The team heard from more than 150 superintendents, district administrators, facilities managers, educators, parents, and students in both rural and urban school districts across the country.
Who We Talked to
+ Initial Results
An interactive map allows you to explore who participated in these conversations.
With little time to respond, districts
jumped into action shifting to remote learning. This data shares the biggest changes faced, highlights the role
schools play in the community,
and ponders future impacts.
The biggest shift was the immediate move to remote learning. Explore districts' initial implementation, how they are responding now, and reactions which will inform how they respond into the near and far future.
By using these insights, districts can plan for their campus returns while understanding future opportunities.
DLR Group analyzed
the data to find
And dive into our findings information on now, near, and far...
Who We Heard From
An interactive map allows you to explore who participated in these conversations.
77 school districts represented
18 states represented
2,620,050 students represented
With little time to respond, districts jumped into action shifting to remote learning. This data shares the biggest changes faced, highlights the role schools play in the community, and ponders the future impacts.
Shifting to Virtual
The biggest shift was the immediate move to remote learning. Click the dashboard to explore districts’ initial implementation and reactions which will inform how they are responding now and into the near and far future.
Explore options districts
are using now
Explore some options for the months ahead
Perhaps, with more questions than answers, plans to return to school
were prominent in
How are districts planning to keep their facilities safe? How will social interaction and learner support be maintained? What will happen with large group events and activities that unite the community?
While campuses await official recommendations and requirements for what learning should look like in fall 2020, many have begun brainstorming how to accomplish social distancing and ensuring a clean, safe facility.
Although their primary focus is core curriculum, districts recognize the significance of extracurricular and community events. Here, participants share their burgeoning plans.
Activities + Events
Remote learning in response to the pandemic highlighted the social needs fulfilled by attending school, for both teachers and students. This data shares the pros and cons of distance learning and what students are missing.
A guide to maximize student engagement and parent connection
in remote learning scenarios.
Remote Learning Guide
Our data highlights pre-existing inequities and opportunities for change in the school system.
We share the broad struggles uncovered by the pandemic, and the need to balance collaboration and inquiry with the perceived limitations of remote instruction in the year ahead.
Inequity throughout school communities was brought to the forefront as districts responded to the crisis. Differences are clear in the access to technology, food, and transportation; learner safety at home; and the needs in learning and levels of interaction.
Educators displayed immense creativity to make the shift to remote learning possible. This can be seen as an opportunity to grow new skills and enable positive shifts in teaching and learning.
Districts expressed their big dreams, and at DLR Group, we’re optimists ready to help.
We explore how COVID-19 can be a catalyst for positive change.
Hoping to leverage the pandemic as a catalyst for positive change, respondents discuss both the big-picture shifts that can happen in teaching and learning and the more practical ways the business of building schools may shift.
Future of School
Just about every space will be impacted in some way, shape or form. Some in ways we have not thought of, nor has anyone else. Thus, we need to have a sense of flexibility.
A large focus of districts is how to manage what school will look like in a physical building. Participants overwhelmingly are waiting for guidance and expectations from the CDC and other governing bodies around the return to school. However, the data show that some plans are beginning to take shape, such as the deep cleaning of facilities, developing communication plans, and getting creative with space planning. Bathrooms, the cafeteria, classrooms, and other common spaces pose the largest concerns.
Ubiquitous hand sanitizing stations are a given and many districts are also considering mask requirements and the implementation of temperature checks as users enter facilities. To facilitate social distancing, most plan to reduce the number of students attending through alternate scheduling.
Returning to campus
While learners embrace flexibility and the ability to choose their own pace, the overwhelming objection was the lack of socialization. Districts are concerned about student success, but it is the social nature of school that is most difficult to replicate. Nearly every respondent stated that students want to return to campus. Relationships with educators and the ability to participate in athletics and recreation are also missed. Those in unsafe home environments miss school serving
Because the shift to remote learning happened so quickly, many students experienced unclear expectations and worked on poor learning platforms. This paired with a lack of remedial support signals a need for heightened focus on teacher-student interaction regardless of school occurring in person or virtually.
Maintaining social-emotional learning
Nearly all large group gatherings are anticipated to be impacted in some way as we progress through the school year. However, respondents indicated the overwhelming value these events provide for students and the broader school community; 80% indicate limits to participation will impact school and community morale. Thus, most respondents are committed to maintaining these unifying events by altering them to comply with government recommendations.
While respondents are considering alternate scheduling, virtual spectators for athletic and performing arts events, and reducing the number of learners participating in each activity, this is another ever-evolving data point as we await the guidelines and stipulations to be in place when the school year begins.
Feasibility of large
Our data illustrates the pandemic’s heightening of pre-existing inequities. Schools found stark differences in learner access to technology, food, and safety at home. One of the more pressing issues impacting the return to school is inequity in transportation as social distancing requirements limit the number of learners allowed to ride a school bus. Districts attempted to stay connected with their school communities through a variety of means, such as ‘engagement logs’ versus traditional attendance or teaching meditation to keep an eye on the mental health of learners. Some recommended creating smaller cohorts for students and parent groups to help navigate the new normal. Remote meal sites, mobile hot spots, and resource/food pick-up locations were quickly put in place to help families with inadequate resources.
Addressing the social, emotional, and physical needs of the community
"Some of our most disengaged students in brick and mortar were highly engaged in virtual learning. After professional development, my teachers felt better with virtual learning."
"The digital divide is very obvious, but what may not be quite as obvious is internet access or the ability for the home to provide a good learning environment. Many students have the added pressure of helping to take care of younger siblings. Often times a teacher may assume a child is not prioritizing learning because they are not virtually present, when the reality is they can’t be for one reason or another. On the flipside, many minorities experience oppression at school and learning from home may be a more positive experience. Schools do not always address these issues so if that stress isn’t present home may be a better learning environment. Everyone’s situation is varied so perhaps the response should be varied as well – options to learn some topics on-line."
"People first, less is more, and flexibility is paramount."
"One of the things I learned or became more sensitive too was how people learn."
"Forcing folks to think differently; being part of a team that is able to think differently has been critical, being able to problem solve in new situation quickly is something new."
In looking at how to provide bus transportation to students that will be returning to schools, our respondents noted, "They were looking at ways to sanitize after pickups and drop off, disinfectants to spray on. How to do social distancing on the bus. Only have home to school buses for students that have IEPS, but it is real issue for student group transportation."
"Transportation will be extremely difficult to provide with in social distance guidelines. We do not have a solution for this at this time."
"This is my biggest stressor. It depends on the guidelines but if it is still 6 ft than busing in our district will be almost impossible to do."
"Certainly, bus transit is both a safety and an
"We do not have bus service. I am hoping our city and district spend time and money on developing safe bike routes to schools.
“Students' access to technology is not equitable.
There is a broad range of access (including many that didn't have internet), so the district had to quickly respond. Other classes, like SPED and ELL are more difficult to teach digitally.”
“Managing perceptions. For us it has been trying to determine “What is a big deal vs. what is not a big deal.” It is different for everybody and you try not to diminish one person’s fears or struggles over another’s.”
“I have learned more about my students' lives at home.”
“Empathy for our students has increased because of the increased understanding of what they are up against. We hope to hold onto that.”
The pandemic is forcing school districts to think differently about the delivery of education. It is clear in the data that most respondents feel virtual learning to some degree will be here to stay and that the flexibility and individualization it enables are appreciated. However, there is concern regarding maintaining socialization and authentic learning experiences in this model; many believe a hybrid/blended model is more realistic. A particular concern was raised regarding hands-on learning; respondents agree that it is a priority, but are unsure how to continue it in light of health and safety requirements.
A primary factor in the successful shift of our systems will be professional development and providing educators the tools to teach authentically in a hybrid environment.
Long-term benefits from the temporary response
While many districts hope the changes they face are temporary, other more substantial shifts are anticipated for educational institutions in general. Coinciding with 'outside the box' thinking and innovation, districts anticipate a balance of online and face-to-face learning. They look for increased availability of technology to support educators and learners, seek reduced operating costs, and may embrace new business models.
On a practical level, districts anticipate longer-term impacts to the density of staff and students, availability of hand washing stations, and the continual ability to toggle space use and isolate students/staff as needed. Furniture design may look different with anti-microbial finishes and other features to help reduce the spread of infectious disease. Flexibility will likely be key in all future school designs.
Reshaping what going to school could be
K-12 Education Environment for Fall 2020 and Beyond
Rethinking K-12 Education Post-Pandemic
DLR Group design experts have developed short- and long-term solutions to guide school districts as they welcome students and teachers back to school in the fall.
After conducting a nation-wide survey of school leaders, educators, students, and parents, DLR Group identified space planning and design recommendations for a safer return to the classroom.
by Jim French
by Ian Kilpatrick
Embracing a Transformational Shift to Inquiry-Based Learning
The immediate shift to remote learning as a result of the pandemic is forcing school districts to think differently about the delivery of education. COVID-19 may be the catalyst to change the delivery of education across the county.
by Emily Froese
DLR Group designers are challenging school districts and communities to think big and re-define the learning experience in a COVID-19 world.
by Todd Ferking
A Provocation for the Future of Learning
Remote Learning From Home
download the Remote Learning Guide
Parent Connection for Remote Learning
Remote learning is more effective when parents communicate effectively, establish purposeful routines, and assist with organization. The following serves as a guide for parents (and educators!) assisting students with remote learning.
Studies show a direct positive correlation between parent involvement and student success.
Download the Remote Learning Guide
Building a Successful
Remote Learning Environment
A student’s surroundings can have a significant impact on their ability to focus and stay engaged. These research-based strategies for learning can be used in a home with multiple rooms, or within a limited space where parents and students are sharing the same room together.
Based on the same research used for designing schools, this guide will help you optimize your home for remote learning.
Research shows that students are much more focused and engaged when given the ability to move because movement adds novelty and feeds oxygen to the brain.