LEXINGTON, Ky — The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence today released the Coping with COVID-19 Teacher and Family Study. The study, conducted in August through October, found that while some Kentuckians are finding benefits to remote K-12 instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, many families and teachers face significant challenges in teaching and learning from home.
The results of the study came from a survey designed by the Prichard Committee’s citizen research team of students, parents, and teachers that reached more than 4,000 people in 111 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. Results and recommendations were also gleaned from qualitative peer interviews that included students, parents, and teachers from across the state. Of the 2,068 teachers and families that completed the survey:
- 12% of families said they did not have reliable access to the internet;
- 21% of families said that providing care for their children at home while they work is a big concern.
- 15% of teachers said they must share the devices they use for teaching with others in their home.
- 33% of teachers said they only sometimes or never have access to a distraction-free environment when teaching from home.
“The needs that have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic are definitely childcare, internet access, and technology,” said Michael Griffin, a teacher from Hopkins County. “Lots of kids don’t have internet, but even the ones who do struggle with having multiple siblings and only one Chromebook per household.”
The Coping with COVID-19 Teacher and Family Study is a stakeholder-driven initiative launched in the wake of statewide school closures to amplify the voices of Kentucky teachers and families navigating teaching and learning through the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to the impact on teaching and learning, the study also explored topics related to health and safety surrounding COVID-19, mental health, family and teacher morale, and school and district communication.
“This study shows that the digital divide, childcare needs, limited social support, and other realities that come from families working, teaching, and learning at home – are having a dramatic impact on Kentucky students’ education,” said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, Prichard Committee President & CEO. “It will take a concerted effort – including from our elected officials and local community organizations – to ensure that families, students, and teachers get the supports they need during the pandemic and beyond.”
The report’s recommendations for the improvement of remote teaching and learning include advocating for increased funding for technology and other resources and leveraging community-based organizations to provide access to licensed counselors, social workers, and other mental health professionals for all students, families, and educators who need them. Creating more internet hot spots, especially in rural areas that are underserved, is also key in closing the digital divide in a state that is ranked 42nd nationally for access to broadband internet.
“We must give grace to teachers, students, and families as we all work through the new normal of teaching and learning,” said Penny Christian, a Fayette County parent of four and one of the citizen researchers who created the report. “However, we must also encourage grit as our families, students, and teachers advocate for our needs and not settle for less than what we require to be effective.”
The intergenerational research team co-designed the survey and interview research strategy in an effort to provide a scalable model for how students, families, and teachers can act as citizen researchers to ensure education equity and drive a bold future for Kentucky’s education system and its students.
“Our collaboration as teachers, parents, and students resulted in findings that were meaningful and actionable – an impressive feat for non-professional researchers. I am excited to see additional community-based, co-design processes develop in the future and continue to prove their value,” said Garris Stroud, a teacher from Hopkins County and a member of the intergenerational research team.