- According to the final data set from the 2021 National Assessment of Educational Progress School Survey, 98% of public schools with grades 4 or 8 were open for hybrid or full-time in-person learning in May — marking a 2 percentage point increase since April — while 2% remained fully remote.
- The survey, administered by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences, also highlights geographic differences: The West was less likely to offer full in-person instruction at only 37%, while 58% of Northeast schools offered full-time in-person instruction, 75% in the South, and 72% in the Midwest. Conversely, 4% of Northeastern schools remained fully remote, followed by 2% of Southern schools, 2% of Western schools and 1% of Midwestern schools.
- Differences by race persisted, with almost no White students being offering only full remote instruction, compared to 4% of both Black and Hispanic students being offered full remote instruction and 7% of Asian students.
Although the Delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading in parts of the United States and a number of students and adults remaining unvaccinated, many educators and leaders, including U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, are still pushing to fully reopen schools in the fall with safety precautions in place.
"As a nation, we cannot rest until all students — including students of color and other historically and presently underserved students — have an equal opportunity to receive in-person instruction in school buildings that are fully reopened and safe," Cardona said in an emailed statement. "It remains my expectation that in the upcoming academic year, all schools will offer full-time, in-person learning opportunities five days a week to every student."
He added that "this goal is more than within reach."
Overall, the new dataset shows the percentage of schools offering any form of in-person instruction across the nation slightly increased since April, and significantly since January.
“The overall numbers from May are better than anyone could have reasonably expected when we launched this
survey earlier this year,” said Mark Schneider, director of IES, the research, statistics, and evaluation arm of
the Department of Education, in a statement.
However, some states had especially low percentages of schools offering in-person instruction. Among the lowest were Washington, Oregon, California, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. It is important to note there was insufficient data to make conclusions about many other states.
“While the overall numbers are the best we have seen, disparities in enrollment remain,” said Peggy Carr, acting commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, in a statement.
Overall, about half of the nation's 4th- and 8th-graders were attending school full-time and in-person by the end of the school year.