COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The Association of Christian Schools International is pleased to announce the release of data from a nationwide survey of Christian schools' responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 800 Christian schools representing diverse geographic locations and school sizes responded to the survey, which was conducted in late April.
Dr. Lynn Swaner, ACSI Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, Cardus Senior Fellow, and lead author of the report, says the findings of the survey point to the overall nimbleness of Christian schools in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. She highlights schools' quick transition to distance learning after their campuses were closed-with approximately a third of schools missing zero days of instructional time. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of schools missed less than three instruction days, and nearly four out of five schools missed less than five instructional days. Respondents also indicated that their transition to distance learning was much faster than other types of schools in their communities.
Not only were schools quick to transition, but they also reported significant continuity of learning for students-with the majority of Christian schools continuing to offer core academics, Bible courses, music and arts, physical education, and elective courses via distance learning. Survey results show that schools are also maintaining regular communication with families and obtaining feedback from school constituents regarding distance learning.
In terms of financial impact, more than two-thirds of schools reported providing emergency financial assistance to families related to COVID-19 needs. Schools also appear to be prioritizing retaining their staff, with 87% forgoing layoffs and nearly three-quarters indicating an intention to participate in the SBA Paycheck Protection Program Loan.
The survey also asked respondents about forecasting for the 2020-2021 school year. While re-enrollment appears to be holding steady at most Christian schools, new student inquiries are down from previous years. With their physical campuses still closed, many schools are getting creative by utilizing virtual open houses, tours, and shadow days to engage with prospective students and their families. They are also considering how to use technology well next year-with close to half of schools reporting plans to incorporate distance learning into brick-and-mortar delivery, and a quarter also planning to offer an entirely new hybrid delivery model.
"Our schools are learning and adapting quickly in this new educational environment," said Dr. Larry Taylor, ACSI President. "Yes, they are planning to finish out this year well, but they are also considering how to remain dynamic well into the future."
Based on the survey results, the report makes several recommendations for Christian schools as they look toward next year. These include investing in teacher professional development and instructional technology to support distance learning, as well as considering the well-being of both students and staff in the face of ongoing uncertainty related to COVID-19. On the financial side, the report recommends that schools engage in robust contingency planning that expands financial assistance for families in need, considers the loss of auxiliary income (e.g., camps and athletic events) should closures continue, and incorporates COVID-19 related costs they may need to incur (such as cleaning services and personal protective equipment).
Finally, the report urges Christian schools to tell their stories of success during this time of COVID-19 disruption. "Schools' nimble responses in the face of crisis, as well as the depth and quality of care for their students, are a major part of their value proposition for families," Swaner said. "Now is the time for Christian schools to think innovatively, to leverage their learning during this crisis, and to develop new offerings and strategies that increase access to Christian education for families who desire it."
For more information, and to download the national report, visit here. A wide range of helpful COVID-19 related resources can also be accessed by visiting ACSI.org and clicking on the "Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources" bar at the top.
Headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., ACSI exists to strengthen Christian schools and equip Christian educators worldwide as they prepare students academically and inspire them to become devoted followers of Jesus Christ. ACSI advances excellence in Christian schools by enhancing the professional and personal development of Christian educators and providing vital support functions for Christian schools by offering multiple services including teacher and administrator certification, school accreditation, legal/legislative assistance, and curriculum publishing. Serving more than 25,000 schools in 108 countries, ACSI helps more than 5.5 million students worldwide connect to Christian education.
For more information on the ministry, visit ACSI.org or follow on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ACSIUSA or on Twitter at @ACSIUSA.