May 2020

The COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned

From the Director

Welcome to the May issue of the NSBA Center for Safe School’s Quarterly Newsletter, a benefit of your subscription. For this issue, we will be stepping away from focusing solely on one of the key areas of the Center to lean into the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

These unprecedented times are impacting all areas of our nation and are creating new challenges for our schools and communities daily. You do not have to look far to hear about school closures, the spread of the virus, impacts to local businesses, and the deaths of loved ones. Physical isolation is amplifying existing and creating new mental health concerns. This crisis has also magnified the disparities and gaps of available resources and services provided to some of our students and families most in need.

Current events have, if nothing else, shown us the need to go beyond our traditional notions of how we educate and support our students and families. This is no easy task, and the struggles our communities are facing to meet these needs are most certainly real. With the ever-growing amount of new challenges being presented, we are taking this opportunity to provide additional information on the challenges our students and families are facing. We also are focusing on some of the positives that have been taking place in our schools and communities. Through perseverance and resiliency, many school districts have shown tremendous resolve in working tirelessly to meet the needs of their communities. We will be highlighting this work in the hopes of building off of these successes.

We recognize that the questions and struggles we currently face outweigh the successes we have seen so far. We know that we still have a long way to go to get back to a sense of normalcy. It is our hope that this newsletter, along with NSBA and the Center for Safe Schools, can be a resource and support during these times.

NSBA has been working to provide ongoing support during this crisis. A few resources currently available are:

NSBA Responding to Coronavirus Resources
The National School Boards Association coronavirus page contains resources aimed at supporting public schools and education leader with the most up to date information and resources.

NSBA Center for Safe Schools Webinar: Navigating Virtual Education — with Calm, Connectedness and Compassion 
Hosted by NSBA’s Center for Safe Schools in collaboration with the Attachment & Trauma Network, this discussion focuses on the impact of school closures and the new normal this creates for families and educators alike. This discussion addresses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on schools and families and how we can help children and families—especially those with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)—navigate this new environment. Read an overview of the discussion and learn more about the presenters.

NSBA COSA Families First Coronavirus Response Act FAQ
How does the Families First Coronavirus Response Act impact student meals and school employee leave? COSA, a program of NSBA, has answered common questions school districts might have regarding relief for schools.

BuyBoard Facts and Resources
Compiled by a national purchasing cooperative, this facts and resource sheet includes recommendations to minimize the spread of respiratory illnesses, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, and a directory of resources with sample guidance from county and state health agencies.

We hope the articles and resources in this issue provide some encouragement during these times.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions and comments using the online discussion group. Remember, this is your forum to engage other subscribers from around the country. You may email us at, and don’t forget to visit NSBA’s Center for Safe Schools for new and unique resources and discussions.

Future issues of this newsletter will be published in July, October, and January.

Thank you for your continued interest and commitment to help foster safe schools for all our students and district employees.

Adam Lustig
Director, NSBA Center for Safe Schools


February 2022
Returning Stronger: Student Reengagement Through and Beyond the Pandemic

May 2021
Supporting the Mental Health of Students and Staff Through the Pandemic and Beyond

January 2021
Rethinking The Role of The School Resource Officer

October 2020
The Value of Sports and Performance Programs: Understanding the Benefits and Prioritizing Programs Through a Pandemic

July 2020
Prevention and Intervention: An Understanding of Behavioral Threat Assessments

May 2020
The COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned

January 2020
Cybersecurity: Understanding the Threats and Risks

October 2019
Rethinking Bullying Prevention

Featured Articles

Person writing with a video call on a iPad in the background

Achievements in the Time of COVID-19

By Guy Grace and Deborah Grace

We expect the cause of the emergencies at our schools to be someone or something that is visible to the senses. Through working in the field of school safety, we have always been amazed and proud to witness the response of schools to emergencies such as school shootings, bus accidents, and weather-related emergencies like tornados.

Read More

Woman looking out of a window thinking

Responding to Crisis: Lesson Learned

By Zac Rantz

The COVID-19 pandemic can be described as nothing short of a crisis. When we look at the response of school districts, the good news is that while we would like to think that things are new and unique, crisis situations generally have the same issues, just different situations.

Read More

National Statistics

School closures in response to COVID-19:

As of May 6, 2020, 48 states, 4 U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia have ordered or recommended school building closures for the rest of the academic year, affecting approximately 50.4 million public school students.

School closures due to coronavirus have impacted at least 124,000 U.S. public and private schools and affected at least 55.1 million students.

Data Source: EdWeek Coronavirus and School Closures

Regarding school districts and crisis preparedness plans that include responding to pandemic outbreaks, in 2016 approximately:

  • 74% of school districts had crisis preparedness plans that included procedures for responding to pandemic outbreaks;
  • 65% of districts required schools to include responding to pandemics in their preparedness plans; and
  • 64% of districts had one or more district-level leadership group(s) that addressed the management of infectious diseases, like in pandemics.

Chart, percentage of school districts, by the characteristics of their crisis/emergency preparedness plans: 2016

Among school districts that had leadership groups to address the management of infectious diseases, most included the following types of members in their teams:

  • community members (85%),
  • public safety agencies (65%),
  • mental health/social service agencies (55%), and
  • school board members (54%).

Chart, percentage of school districts with a leadership group to address management of infectious diseases, by team member/representative in the group: 2016

Data Sources and Images:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: School Health Policies and Practices Study (SHPPS) 2016
National School Boards Association: CDC Data on Schools’ Response to Pandemics