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Lessons for Leaders from the 2020-2021 School Year: Building Public Confidence in School Reopening

COVID-19 has undermined public confidence in our schools’ ability to provide safe, high-quality education to our nation’s young people. Since the beginning of the pandemic, district leaders have had to make decisions about how to implement mitigation measures and reinvent schooling in response to an evolving understanding of the virus and what can be done to stop its spread to children and families while still supporting high quality student learning. 

In this brand new report from the Beyond Crisis Schooling Project, we draw on data from two project phases:

1) Documents collected from 674 districts during the March 2020-June 2020 school building closure in Maine and Pennsylvania (n=7,142); and

2) interviews with 52 school leaders from both Maine (n=24) and Pennsylvania (n=28) across urbanicity and other district characteristics

We use these two datasets to understand what lessons can be learned from their experiences of district superintendents working to build public confidence in district decisions in response to COVID. We hope that these lessons will be useful to both district leaders and policymakers as we enter another school year in which COVID-19 transmission remains a significant public health issue. 

Download the report here: 


Authors of the report

Catharine Biddle, Ph.D., University of Maine
Maria Frankland, Ph.D., University of Maine

Project Research Support

Ryan Crane (Ed.D., ’22), University of Maine
Katie Truesdale (Ed.D. ’24), University of Maine
William O’Neil (M.Sc. ’24), University of Maine
Brooke Sulinski (M.Sc. ’24), University of Maine