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Rural schools grapple with

Building on a foundation of reporting on the state of rural America, the Institute for Nonprofit News partnered with a handful of its members to examine how rural America would respond to and be affected by the impact of COVID-19 on its schools.

Read stories from the collaboration below.

Impact Report

High-impact partnerships extend reach, impact of rural education project

Nine media organizations — Charlottesville Tomorrow, El Paso Matters, IowaWatch, The Nevada Independent, New Mexico in Depth, Underscore News/Pamplin Media Group and Wisconsin Watch/The Badger Project — worked together to tell the story of the unique struggles rural districts face as they educate students during the pandemic. Lesson Plans stories were also published by 97 outlets in 31 states and six national/niche outlets.

Learn more.
Rural schools battled bad internet, low attendance in the pandemic. Will spring semester be better?
New Mexico in Depth January 21, 2021

It’s unclear how far the pandemic has set back learning in the past year. But some initial research has not been encouraging…

In a small rural school reside big hopes for Nevada’s Native students
The Nevada Independent January 11, 2021

In Nevada, Schurz Elementary School Principal Lance West is on a mission to improve education for Native students.

Working Through Challenges in Rural Oregon
Underscore News/Pamplin Media Group January 8, 2021

As high school students juggle responsibilities of a job or child care, one school district experiments with evening tutoring.

As semester ends in Wisconsin, COVID-19 fears shrink — while concerns of academic slide grow
Wisconsin Watch January 5, 2021

Schools are not the superspreader sites that many feared, but research indicates U.S. students fell behind in math during the pandemic.

Orange County middle school declines to release attendance during pandemic, compare to 2019
Charlottesville Tomorrow January 4, 2021

Orange County, Virginia school officials are declining to release info comparing this year’s attendance so far to last year’s.

Nine months into the pandemic, learning impact on rural border schools remains unclear
El Paso Matters January 4, 2021

Educators at Texas high schools aren’t sure how much learning loss has occurred among students during the pandemic.

A historic year, learning loss threatens recent educational gains
New Mexico In Depth January 4, 2021

In New Mexico, learning losses caused by the pandemic will likely weaken already low student outcomes.

The people behind a rural Iowa school district enduring the coronavirus
IowaWatch January 4, 2021

The staff at Iowa’s South Hamilton Schools spend their days keeping up with the daily reports of sickened students and faculty, making sure…

South Hamilton, like other rural Iowa schools, takes on what-ifs of learning in COVID
IowaWatch January 4, 2021

The district weathered a September coronavirus outbreak that sickened 117 kids who tested positive or were exposed to someone who did.

A rural district’s solution for reopening schools? Six-week courses for older students
The Nevada Independent October 23, 2020

The success of the pedagogical experiment hinges on one question: Will it work for students?

How a rural Iowa school district changed busing for costs, staffing, and students’ safety
IowaWatch October 23, 2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly closed public schools, rural school districts had to begin planning for an uncertain return.

COVID complicates college prep for Native students
New Mexico In Depth October 22, 2020

Programs that help Native students prepare for and succeed in college are declining in the pandemic.

El Paso COVID-19 surge could disrupt rural border education efforts
El Paso Matters October 22, 2020

The struggle to balance education with student and teacher safety plays out at many rural school districts on the Texas-Mexico border.

Amid technical and logistical challenges, Warm Springs parents struggle to connect
Underscore News/Pamplin Media Group October 21, 2020

Rural school districts in Oregon have come up with innovative ways to create digital classrooms to keep education going during the pandemic.

Wisconsin schools ‘whipsawing’ as COVID-19 hits rural districts
Wisconsin Watch October 20, 2020

Some rural schools in the state are forced to integrate all students into online classrooms.

COVID-19 pressures Orange schools to increase routes
Charlottesville Tomorrow October 19, 2020

Virginia’s Orange County Public Schools are still facing its biggest driver shortage in more than a decade.

COVID has made rural schools suddenly responsible for getting internet to kids in remote, unserved areas
Charlottesville Tomorrow August 28, 2020

With the rise of remote learning, the problem of inadequate internet access has fallen suddenly on rural school divisions to solve.

Oregon’s mandatory distance learning puts pressure on families
Underscore News/Pamplin Media Group August 27, 2020

Students spent the last three months of the 2019-20 school year learning remotely. This fall, they’re poised to do the same, despite stress to families.

Closing the graduation gap in Jefferson County’s schools
Underscore News/Pamplin Media Group August 27, 2020

Professional learning communities helped teachers collaborate and get clear about what individual students needed to learn.

Battling a COVID backslide in Central Oregon schools
Underscore News/Pamplin Media Group August 27, 2020

Though graduation rates have improved, parents are worried that distance learning may cause rates to slide once again.

The collaboration partners were Charlottesville Tomorrow, El Paso Matters, Iowa Watch, The Nevada Independent, New Mexico In Depth, Underscore News/Pamplin Media Group and Wisconsin Watch/The Badger Project.

The project was made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation, and support in the Midwest from INN’s Amplify News Project, whose funders include the Joyce Foundation.

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