The NCSL Blog


By Michelle Exstrom and Austin Reid

As of March 16, 33 states have closed all P-12 schools for at least several weeks, and an overwhelming majority of colleges and universities have sent students home for the rest of the semester as a result of direction for the nation’s health officials desperately trying to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Maryland public school students will be out of school for two weeks starting Monday, state officials announced on Thursday. The Washington Post via Getty ImagesAs a result, state and school officials are grappling with how to ensure students—from preschool through graduate school—are fed, safe and learning. 

They must make decisions about how to set up virtual schools and deliver online instruction to all K-12 students, including those with disabilities, while protecting data privacy. They must decide how and when to evaluate student learning and discern how this may affect their ability to meet their state and federal accountability requirements. 

College and university officials are looking for a path forward with college admissions for next year while they are determining how best to ensure students can finish this semester. Most pressing will be how schools will distribute meals to vulnerable students who count on them during the week to meet their nutritional needs.

NCSL’s Education Program staff is working to ensure state legislators and staff have the information needed to make these tough decisions. We have gathered education-related resources, including legislative action and state and federal resources. 

All of this information is posted on the NCSL Public Education Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage. This page also links to all of NCSL’s resources on this topic, including tracking for health, education, appropriations, elections and legislative institutional responses.

The U.S. Department of Education also has provided many resources and guidance that may be of assistance, including guidance for closures, student data privacy, providing services for students with disabilities, accountability and assessments, emergency management and meal services for students.

Michelle Exstrom is group director of NCSL's Education Program. Austin Reid is education committee director in NCSL's State-Federal Division. 

Email Michelle.

Austin Reid is education committee director in NCSL's State-Federal Division. 

Email Austin.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.