K-12 School Opening Tracker

Virtual vs. In-Person Learning for K-12 Public Schools Across the US

Burbio.com is an industry leader aggregating school, government, library and community event information for delivery over mobile, web, video, email and voice. Burbio actively monitors districts representing over 35,000 schools, including the 200 largest school districts in the US. District plans are reviewed every 72 hours to identify changes. School districts in the data set are a mix of sizes and distributed nationally in such a way to represent local decision-making across the country. 

If interested in Burbio's  K-12 Calendar Insights Service, which measures school start dates, vacation schedules, summer school programs, and days-in-school across the US, please contact  dennis@burbio.com.

Burbio's data service tracks the following:

  • School start dates for 2021, comparing to 2020 and 2019 across over 80,000 K-12 public schools
  • Summer school programs in the Top 200 Districts
  • "Days in School" across all districts in the US to better measure demand.
  • Extensive mapping, graphics, and analytical support

For more information contact dennis@burbio.com 

K-12 transitions have come to a close as the numbers are now fixed for the balance of the year, with just over 30% of US K-12 students attending hybrid or virtual schools. We saw some large districts announce virtual offerings for next year, have a "Year in Review" chart comparing K-5, 6-8, and 9-12 learning plans, and state-level mask mandates continue to be removed. More below.

Burbio School Opening Tracker- Now Including State Averages

% US K-12 Students Attending "Virtual only" Schools = 2.1% (no change from last week)
% US K-12 Students Attending "Traditional" In-person/Every day" schools = 69.6% (no change)
% US K-12 Students Attending "Hybrid" Schools = 28.3% (no change)

The above percentages are set to Sunday, June 6. Our data is presented as "students attending schools that offer this learning plan" - most districts also offer virtual even when providing in-person. For above 2.1% of US K-12 students are currently attending schools that offer virtual-only plans, 69.6% offering traditional, etc.

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1) In recent weeks we saw announcements from the states of Illinois and New Jersey, plus New York City, outlining plans that had highly restrictive virtual options for next academic year. This week, however, districts in Massachusetts, California and Virginia outlined stand-alone virtual academies, and Texas is near authorizing districts to offer virtual next year. Combine these announcement with virtual options already being offered throughout the Sun Belt, and states such as Missouri, Iowa, Indiana and Minnesota, and it appears virtual learning will be widely offered in 2021/22.

  • Springfield, MA, will be offering a virtual academy next year after a very high level of interest from a small survey sample (742 responses in a district of 25,000 students). Planning for the academy preceded Covid19 and enrollment will begin with 50 students per grade.
  • Fresno, CA, announced a return to full time in-person for the Fall and will be offering a virtual academy as well.
  • In Texas, legislation to allow virtual learning next year proceeded and a wide range of districts in the state have plans to offer options.
  • In this interesting survey out of heavily virtual Arlington, VA just over 5% of parents chose virtual for their children. The survey breaks out results by grade level and demographics. Arlington will continue to offer a virtual program in 2021/22.
  • Sweetwater Union High School District, a large district in California, announced a return to full time in-person and will continue to offer the virtual Sweetwater "Launch Academy" in 2021/22.
  • Burbio's tracker covers K-12 public schools, but in an interesting note on educational trends we saw that Boston Archdiocese will open a virtual/hybrid school - its first new school in over 50 years.
  • Santa Ana Unified, CA, which was virtual all year, announced survey results for next year with 87% of parents choosing in-person and the balance choosing fully online instruction.

In-school mask policies continue to evolve, including in New York, a major bellwether for how Democratic states may handle this issue in the coming weeks.

  • In a situation that is currently fluid, New York state sent this letter to the CDC on Friday indicating it would be removing school mask mandates on Monday, June 7, as part of aligning camp and school guidelines. Schools still have flexibility to keep the mandates and New York City intends to keep it in place. Then late Sunday, New York state hedged and said it was now waiting for the CDC to respond.
  • Indiana Governor Holcomb removed in-school mask mandates as of June 30 and will leave the decision to local school boards.
  • In Mississippi, the Executive Order for in-school masks has expired, and the Governor will not be renewing it and we flipped that state to light green.
  • In Oklahoma, the Governor signed a bill banning mask mandates in public schools.
  • Media reports out of Georgia indicate Governor Kemp's school mask orders don't translate to an outright ban on in-school mask mandates, but they are having an effect. Gwinnett County schools now "strongly recommends" masks but does not require them, and in Cobb County, schools "masks will be optional for call Cobb County students and staff" as of June 7.
  • This piece lays out the criteria that has been set by North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services to remove in-school mask mandates. It includes vaccination for children under 12 and more research around the effects of Covid-19, meaning North Carolina will stay dark blue indefinitely.
  • In another Catholic school story, 18 Catholic schools in New Hampshire are dropping mask requirements for next year.


3) In our Year in Review series, below is our in-person index by grades K-5, 6-8, 9-12 over the course of the year. K-5 students had the highest in-person index all year, and the gap became widest in the early Spring when "Always Virtual' states and big cities started returning to in-person and often brought in K-5 for in-person weeks ahead of older students. The gap narrowed as the year went on.


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The purple "School Opening Tracker" map below indicates virtual vs. in-person learning for K-12 public schools across the US.

Burbio School Opening Tracker- Now Including State Averages

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