COVID & the Classroom | New Hampshire Public Radio

COVID & the Classroom

The coronavirus pandemic has upended the education system across the country, and in New Hampshire. School leaders are making some of the hardest decisions of their lives, and school staff, students, and families are navigating unknown territory that could have big consequences.

For some, the risks of contracting and spreading the virus are too high to return to school. But closing or limiting access to school can hamper kids’ education, deepen existing inequalities, and wreak havoc on family finances.

NHPR’s “COVID & the Classroom” tells the stories of how Granite Staters are weighing the necessity of employment and school with the realities of the pandemic. We’re here to answer your questions, investigate what’s not working, and share how communities and families are adapting.

Every few weeks, we ask you a new question to help inform our reporting. Click here to see our current question.

You can also email us tips and questions about what you’re seeing, or photos of remote learning at education@nhpr.org.

Courtesy of Ken Gordon

The coronavirus pandemic has isolated a lot of us, but it’s also brought community institutions together in a new way. In New Hampshire's North Country, a daily zoom call has become essential for leaders managing the fallout of the pandemic.

An outside classroom in Westmoreland New Hampshire
Sarah Gibson / NHPR

Early research on the coronavirus in schools and among young people suggests that with proper precautions, classrooms are not the superspreaders that many had feared. 

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

As coronavirus cases surge, a growing number of school districts in New Hampshire are closing their doors and offering mostly virtual instruction instead of in-person classes. But Gov. Chris Sununu and state health officials are urging schools to stay open, saying virus transmission in schools is limited and the payoff of in-person learning is high.

NHPR’s education reporter Sara Gibson has been following this and spoke with All Things Considered host Emily Quirk.

Amanda Loder for NHPR

Fewer students in New Hampshire are attending their neighborhood public school this year, according to new data from the state Department of Education.

The state typically sees a one percent drop in public school enrollment each year, due to aging demographics, but this fall’s decline is far more significant: about four percent statewide.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

The coronavirus pandemic has upended the education system across the country, and in New Hampshire. 

NHPR’s “COVID & the Classroom” tells the stories of how Granite Staters are weighing the necessity of employment and school with the realities of the pandemic. And we want to hear from you.

Scroll down to answer our current survey question.

Courtesy of Manchester School District

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a nationwide expansion of the free and reduced lunch program for K-12 students, but unfilled paperwork could mean districts miss out on millions of dollars for low-income students next year.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The state's largest school district is going remote, citing a steady rise in coronavirus cases and potential staffing shortages.

The Manchester Board of School Committee announced the decision on Tuesday, as the 7-day PCR Test Positivity Rate hovered around 7%, one of the highest in the state. The move takes effect Monday, Nov. 23.

Checking In With Teachers

Nov 11, 2020
A teacher writes on a whiteboard.
Pxfuel

In the second episode of our two-part check-in on public education, we talk with New Hampshire teachers about how this school year has been going for them as they manage a variety of learning models and try to stay safe. 

This discussion follows an interview with Commissioner Frank Edelblut on Tuesday, November 10th.

Air date: Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. 

Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut

Nov 9, 2020
Commissioner Frank Edelblut speaks at a press conference for COVID-19.
Dan Tuohy; NHPR

Commissioner Frank Edelblut will answer your questions and talk with us about the ways the Department of Education is providing support for K-12 students, teachers, and staff across New Hampshire, and how the pandemic is impacting enrollment and resources. Send your questions to exchange@nhpr.org. 

Air date: Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

 

Many school districts in New Hampshire are open, at least for now, with a hybrid or fully in-person model. But in Nashua, schools have remained mostly closed since March.

NHPR File

With coronavirus cases rising and Thanksgiving around the corner, some school districts are weighing whether to go remote until after the holidays.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

A spike in coronavirus cases is forcing many New Hampshire school superintendents to consider going remote.

So far, state officials say school reopening has contributed very little to the state’s coronavirus numbers, but many districts’ reopening metrics require them to reassess their schedule when community transmission levels reach those seen in the last week.

CDC.gov

This post was updated with new information on Nov. 2.

A youth residential facility in Plymouth is dealing with a cluster of COVID-19 cases.

As of Monday, the state's coronavirus data dashboard repoted 19 active cases. A spokesman for the state health department says the latest number reflects ten cases among academy staff and nine cases among youth.

Courtesy of Julie Turner

 

With many of the state’s largest school districts remote or hybrid, students - including young elementary schoolers - are expected to be online for hours at a time. NHPR asked parents and teachers how they’re managing this increase in screen time.

Click here to tell us your story for COVID & the Classroom about navigating school, COVID-19, and the election. 

People sent us stories of creativity, frustration and profound anxiety. Some parents were so concerned about screen time and "Zoom fatigue" that they had opted to homeschool or enrolled in a private school with in-person learning. Here’s a sample of what we heard, and some best practices from local experts on how to manage screen time more effectively.

 

Courtesy of Gorham Middle & High School Facebook page

Schools in the Androscoggin Valley have avoided COVID-related quarantines and shutdowns so far, but COVID-19 cases at the federal prison in Berlin have school leaders on alert.

Elizabeth Roberts via Flicker CC / https://flic.kr/p/4y6u4a

Kids in school have had to take precautions to protect them from COVID-19, and that includes during gym class.

New Hampshire's physical education teachers have made efforts to keep kids physically distant, and some have gotten creative with videos and games to keep kids active as they learn remotely.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Schools in New Hampshire are getting an additional $45 million to help with coronavirus-related expenses.

Gov. Chris Sununu announced the funding at a press conference Thursday, following recommendations from lawmakers on the Governor’s Office for Economic Relief and Recovery Legislative Advisory Board.

Most of the money - which comes to the state from the federal CARES Act - will go to school districts directly, at a rate of approximately $200 per pupil.

Credit Courtesy of Cheryl Gaffney

Classrooms in New Hampshire have changed dramatically to reopen safely in the pandemic, and some of the biggest changes are in music class. Gone are the days of belting out songs shoulder to shoulder, sharing music stands, and swapping instruments. Instead, as NHPR’s Sarah Gibson reports, some schools are following new protocols to bring music back but keep COVID-19 risk low.


Photo Credit woodleywonderworks via Flickr Creative Commons

The Nashua School District is responding to pressure from parents and some school board members to hasten reopening plans after weeks of being almost entirely remote.

At a school board meeting on Tuesday night, Superintendent Jahmal Mosley presented the district’s metrics for moving between remote, hybrid, and in-person models. With transmission levels of COVID-19 now among some of the highest in the state, Mosley said Nashua meets the state's criteria for staying fully remote or hybrid.

Empty classroom
Pickpik

Superintendents across New Hampshire are warning of budget shortfalls and staff shortages as they navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

Courtesy Nicole McKenzie

A continuación, encuentra las noticias del lunes 5 de octubre. 

Puedes escucharlas haciendo click en el audio o leerlas.

Una nota: Lo escrito es nuestro guión para nuestras grabaciones. Tenlo en cuenta si ven algunas anotaciones diferentes.

Estado reporta 53 nuevos casos, 1 fallecimiento adicional y ninguna hospitalización

Un residente más de New Hampshire ha fallecido de COVID-19, y se anunciaron 53 [cincuenta y tres] casos positivos el domingo. Seis de los nuevos casos son personas menores a 18 [dieciocho]. 

NHPR File

Some of the state's largest school districts – including Concord and Manchester - are moving from a largely remote model of instruction to a hybrid later this month.

Many schools in New Hampshire have already been experimenting with the hybrid system for several weeks, with varying degrees of success. 

Josh Rogers / NHPR

State health officials are doubling down on their recommendations to schools for dealing with potential COVID-19 cases, in spite of criticism that the recommendations are too strict.

The state says students with any new or unexplained COVID-19 symptoms should immediately be sent home and referred to their physician for COVID-19 testing.

School Funding: A New Lawsuit and COVID-19

Sep 28, 2020
Three students sit at desks completing worksheets.
The City Journal

Though it has been the subject of debate for decades, school funding is back in the limelight in New Hampshire. The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week after four districts sued the state for not funding an adequate education for students. We examine the history and nuances of this discussion and explore how the issue is complicated by COVID-19. 

Air date: Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. 

Find all of our coverage and share your experiences with NHPR's COVID & The Classroom.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

More school districts are announcing positive COVID-19 cases, prompting a handful of schools and over a thousand students to go to remote learning plans this week.

Sarah Gibson / NHPR

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited New Hampshire on Friday to meet with school leaders, teachers and students in Bedford, but her visit was curtailed by a newly confirmed COVID-19 case in the district.

Sarah Gibson/NHPR

En el noticiero de hoy, te compartimos una entrevista con Claudia Castaño, coordinadora para el programa de English Language Learners del distrito de Nashua, sobre cómo ha empezado el año escolar y que recursos de apoyo hay para familias de los estudiantes. 

También te compartimos otras noticias sobre lo que sucede en New Hampshire hoy, viernes 18 de septiembre.

Flickr/Martin Bekkelund

A nationwide shortage of remote learning resources during the pandemic means the states’s largest school districts - Nashua and Manchester – are short thousands of Chromebook laptops.

The Nashua School District already distributed about 7,000 Chromebooks this fall, but some families have started remote learning without computers at home.

Sarah Gibson / NHPR

School districts will be getting less money from the federal government than they expected this fall to cover COVID-related expenses.

Get updates about COVID-19 in N.H. in your inbox - sign up for our newsletter today! 

For months, officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had told schools that they were eligible for reimbursement for PPE, plastic desk barriers, cleaning supplies, and other materials.

Sarah Gibson/NHPR

Whether remote, hybrid, or in person, back-to-school is a bit more complicated for students with additional needs. We talk with educators and families about how back to school is going for them, as they adapt special education services for the new school normal.

Air date: Wednesday, September 16, 2020. 

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