NYSSBA Report: K-12 "pandemic pods" reflect parents’ need for safety, child care while leaving equity in question

FOR RELEASE: November 23, 2020

Pandemic learning pods, or clusters of K-12 students learning and studying together outside of school, provide academic structure, child care and social support during the COVID-19 pandemic. But some researchers say these pods promote inequities for K-12 students, according to a new report from the New York State School Boards Association.

Across the nation, parents are forming pandemic learning pods for their children to allay safety concerns about the recent return to school classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pods can act as an alternative to traditional K-12 public education or as a complement to it.

"It is important to stress that these pods can create inequities for student learning and, ultimately, can only be a short-term fix to an unpredictable global event," said NYSSBA Executive Director Robert Schneider.

Key takeaways from the report, entitled "Pandemic Learning Pods and K-12 Education," include the following: 

  • Pods provide a multi-functional purpose including academics, child care and socio-emotional development.
  • Pods come in different shapes and sizes and can serve vastly different needs.  Some pods act similar to a homeschooling experience while others act more as enrichment to the school day.
  • Asynchronous learning – or on-demand learning – may offer more equitable educational experiences for students by addressing families’ different schedules.

The report offers school board members insight about the formation of pods, the K-12 response to these pods and equity issues associated with them.

To read the report:

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