Headshot of Erica Frankenberg with long brown hair and multi-colored blouse.
Published on: Oct 13, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented numerous challenges to school districts across the nation as they have debated options for educating students safely. According to researchers in Penn State’s College of Education, the decision by Pennsylvania school districts to re-open schools in-person, remotely or through a hybrid system is closely tied to the racial demographics of the region, and they recommend a series of steps to support equitable responses to the COVID-19 pandemic by school districts.

“Our hope is to try to help school district leaders in Pennsylvania understand the different ways people are responding (to the pandemic),” said Erica Frankenberg, professor of education (educational leadership) in the Department of Education Policy Studies. “Hopefully, this sharing of knowledge will help inform the work they do.”

Frankenberg, co-founder and director of the Center for Education and Civil Rights and PRI affiliate, said that she had initially seen a study specifically look at reopening decisions in relation to school district characteristics being done in other states and decided to conduct a similar study in Pennsylvania with Katharine Dulaney, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Education Policy Studies. Frankenberg and Dulaney recently shared key findings from their study and policy recommendations in a research brief, “Inequity in Pennsylvania School District Reopening Decisions: How Districts’ Mode of Delivery Varies by Region and Student/Community".