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All States Close but Red Districts Reopen: The Politics of In-Person Schooling during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic created enormous challenges for public education. We assess the role of political factors and public health in state and local education decisions, especially the continuation of learning during COVID-19. Using an original dataset of state education policies since the start of the pandemic, we find that governors took the lead on ordering school closures in Spring 2020 but left decisions to districts in the Fall, regardless of partisanship. Partisanship played a much stronger role in local decisions than state decisions. We analyze local district reopening plans and public opinion on reopening in the politically competitive state of Michigan. Partisanship was much more associated with district reopening plans than COVID-19 rates. Republicans in the Michigan public were also far more favorable than were Democrats toward in-person learning. States' decisions to leave reopening plans to their districts opened the way for students’ experiences to be shaped by their area's partisanship.

Keywords
COVID-19, school reopening, politics
Education level
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
10.26300/cb1f-hq66

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Grossmann, Matt, Sarah Reckhow, Katharine Strunk, and Meg Turner. (). All States Close but Red Districts Reopen: The Politics of In-Person Schooling during the COVID-19 Pandemic. (EdWorkingPaper: -355). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: https://doi.org/10.26300/cb1f-hq66

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