A little less than a third of public schools — 31% — needed to quarantine one or more students in March because of COVID-19, according to survey results released by the National Center for Education Statistics last week.
That's a 58% decline from February, when 74% of public schools had to quarantine any students, and a 67% decrease since January, when 94% of schools quarantined at least one student due to COVID-19, according to the survey results.
Schools reporting quarantines for staff members also fell 74% from February to March, with only 8% of public schools reporting the need to quarantine staff in March, down from 32% the month before.
The data, which was collected from a nationally representative sample of 698 schools March 8-21, show a significant decrease in quarantines for both students and staff.
Schools reporting quarantines were higher in the Northeast, Northwest and Southwest regions.
The survey results come as 92% of counties in the nation are experiencing low community-level spread of COVID-19.
They also come as a significant percentage of schools drop masking requirements in light of changing health guidance. According to the report, only 22% of public schools reported requiring masking for students and 23% for staff. That's a significant decrease from 58% of schools requiring students to wear a mask and 62% requiring staff to wear a mask in February.
In fact, fewer students and staff are needing to quarantine at a time when most schools, parents and staff are concerned about slowed academic achievement among children.
According to the same report, 89% of public schools have heard concerns from staff and 82% from parents or guardians about getting students to meet academic standards.
Students themselves have voiced other concerns, with 28% saying they are concerned about their academic achievement and 63% worried about missing out on social activities during the school year.
“Ensuring that students meet academic standards is the chief concern of both parents and teachers,” said NCES Commissioner Peggy Carr in a news release. “However, it is not the only concern, and the non-academic dimensions of school are also a top priority, particularly for students.”