Bridging the Divide: An Analysis of Federal, State, and Local Policies in U.S. Schools

This chapter analyzes the ways in which past and present U.S. federal, state, and local policies have helped and hindered decision-making in local schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particular focus on the economic, political, and social impacts of distance learning efforts. The authors note that more than 76 million U.S. students were suddenly required to learn from home in March 2020, with many of the nation’s most vulnerable schools receiving little to no guidance on how to proceed beyond the confines of the physical classroom. The ramifications of this ongoing digital divide on students’ cognitive development and learning outcomes, along with positive steps that can be undertaken by fostering continuity-of-operations planning, are also addressed.