AIR’s COVID-19 Response and Resources

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic. This virus, also known as COVID-19, dramatically changed the lives of people around the globe, touching all aspects of life, from health care to education to the economy.

On its two-year anniversary, we asked our experts to reflect on the pandemic’s unexpected consequences, adaptations that may outlast the pandemic itself, and any silver linings. 

Throughout the pandemic, AIR has been a source of evidence-based information on the various complexities of this crisis, and has conducted research to learn more about the effects of the pandemic on students, patients, and workers throughout the world.

Education

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AIR Surveys and Projects

COVID-19 and Equity in Education: Longitudinal Deep Dive

This project, conducted in conjunction with the Gates Foundation, is creating an in-depth view of how states, districts, and their communities—especially those with higher percentages of Black and Latinx students and/or students experiencing poverty—responded to the pandemic. The project includes a longitudinal database containing state, district, school, and community data, enabling a broad view of pre-, during, and post-pandemic trends.

National Survey of Public Education’s Response to COVID-19

Part of the AIR Equity Initiative, this project was established in summer 2020 to document the effects of the pandemic on education and provide actionable information to educators, policymakers, and researchers to inform future education practices beyond the initial public health crisis.
 

Other AIR Resources

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Teacher teaching online

Teaching in the Time of COVID

This extensive compilation of AIR's research, resources, and webinar recordings explores the challenges teachers are facing and offers tools and resources for educators. Topics include strengthening teacher qualityteaching and learning during COVID-19, and teacher appreciation during a pandemic.
 

Learning and Teaching at Home During COVID-19

With the disruption to in-person education caused by the pandemic, educators and parents had to develop creative ways to encourage students' learning at home.

Strategies for Supporting Young Students’ Home-Language Development During COVID-19—and Beyond offers educators suggestions to help dual language learners and their families foster children's language development at home.

Two episodes in our AIR Informs podcast series, "Opportunities for Learning and Development in Out-of-School Time," with Deb Moroney, and "Creating Safe, Supportive Learning at Home," with David Osher, described ways to keep children engaged and learning while schools were closed.  
 

Returning to the Classroom

COVID-19 profoundly disrupted K–12 schooling. Public health officials and education leaders faced difficult decisions about when and how to reopen closed schools and when to keep school buildings open. AIR contributed to the conversation with these pieces: 

As schools prepared to welcome students and educators back in the fall of 2021, our experts offered insights into topics such as equity, students with disabilities, and mental health and trauma in our spotlight, Catching Up During COVID.

To What Extent Does In-Person Schooling Contribute to the Spread of COVID-19?, a CALDER working paper, used publicly available health data in Washington state and Michigan to help experts weigh decisions about reopening schools. The paper's authors discussed the results in a Q&A

The pandemic highlighted the need to attend to children's basic needs (safety, health, nutrition) and well-being. AIR created a resource, COVID-19 and Whole Child Efforts: Reopening Update, that provides definitions for selected whole child terms and a crosswalk of these terms to the national reopening guidance.

As students returned to in-person learning, many had to play catch-up. Addressing COVID-19 Learning Disruptions: Four Recommendations for Effective Tutoring Interventions describes the importance of tutoring in addressing the gaps in learning resulting from COVID-19 disruptions.


Recovery: What Works?

Researchers from CALDER at AIR, Harvard University's Center for Education Policy and Research (CEPR), and NWEA are partnering with a coalition of districts across the country on The Road to COVID Recovery: Actionable Research on District Strategies for Student Advancement, a project with the goal of helping determine which COVID recovery interventions are working (or not working) and why.

Working papers released in May 2022 include A Comprehensive Picture of Achievement Across the COVID-19 Pandemic Years: Examining Variation in Test Levels and Growth Across Districts, Schools, Grades, and Students and The Consequences of Remote and Hybrid Instruction During the Pandemic.

 

Health

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Father and sick daughter on a telehealth appointment
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COVID FAQ cover

Facing the Facts

Accurate, accessible health information was—and remains—essential to help people stay safe and healthy, understand federal safety guidelines, and prevent unnecessary fear. AIR's health experts created a plain-language FAQ at the beginning of the pandemic that addressed a variety of initial topics, and followed up with one about the COVID-19 vaccine

The AIR Informs podcast launched with an episode called "Focusing on Facts and Evidence During a Health Crisis," in which we offered advice for finding reliable sources of information, rooted in science and evidence, while avoiding a sense of panic.

In a series of blog posts, our experts addressed insights related to the complex challenges for the U.S. health care system and social safety net programs resulting from the pandemic.
 

Telehealth Expansion

As the pandemic continued, telehealth quickly expanded as a way for people to maintain connections with their health care providers while social distancing. We produced a series of briefs to address some of the issues that arose from this sudden expansion: 

Health Care Hesitancy

With information evolving, people understandably were concerned about seeking in-person health care and about signing up for newly developed vaccines. Our experts explored the reasons behind these feelings and how to address them and published findings in briefs and other resources.

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Graphic: 50% of respondents feel safer when patients and staff are required to wear a mask

AIR experts Krishna Winfrey and Rachel Shapiro conducted research investigating how willing people in the U.S. are to seek health care during the pandemic. In an In the Field series, they discussed their results about patients' hesitancy to seek treatment, what health providers should know about that hesitancy, and how we can better understand patients' feelings about the vaccine.

AIR expert and epidemiologist Amanda Latimore wrote a commentary about how building community trust is essential to COVID-19 vaccine acceptance.
 

Childhood Food Insecurity

While children are among the least likely to develop severe illnesses or become hospitalized as a result of COVID-19, they remain vulnerable to the downstream effects of the pandemic, including the lack of consistent and dependable access to enough food. This blog post provides an overview of the issue and examines efforts to address it.
 

Resources for People with Existing Injuries

The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center continued its support of people living with spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and burn injury to help them stay healthy during the pandemic.

 

Human Services

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AIR experts have decades of experience in youth development and family and community engagement, and they explored a number of ways the pandemic affected people and communities.
 

Mental Health

Rising rates of anxiety and depression symptoms were among the most troubling of the early trends of the pandemic. Kelly Wells and Frank Rider engaged in a conversation about what this trend means for families, schools, and communities.

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Historically high rates of anxiety and depression reported in the U.S. during the pandemic

In a webinar about public health, policy, and equity, experts discussed an intervention that has helped schools respond to students’ mental health needs

AIR and the Community-Campus Partnerships for Health developed a survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on community-based organizations.
 

Community Engagement

The Youth Engaged 4 Change (YE4C) website, part of the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs, includes a section about COVID-19 resources geared toward youth.

In an episode of the AIR Informs podcast, "Supporting the Foster Care Community During COVID-19," Ann-Marie Faria discussed how the pandemic has affected the already overburdened foster care system and ways to address some of the challenges it faces.

 

International

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Credit: AVSI Foundation

Finding Solutions to International Research Challenges

Conducting research and providing technical assistance in developing countries has long been challenging and unpredictable, and the pandemic ushered in a new wave of challenges. AIR experts and local staff in the field shared creative solutions to research problems and other lessons learned. 
 

Emergency Remote Teaching

In collaboration with the Latin America and Caribbean Reads Capacity Program, RedLEI created six webinars (available in Spanish and English) to help teachers transition to a remote curriculum
 

Women’s Groups: Challenges, Engagement, and Opportunities

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The pandemic disproportionately affected women across the world and reversed progress in gender equality across sub-Saharan Africa. But studies suggest women’s groups helped cushion the economic blow and support communities.

AIR collaborated on a brief that presented the implications of the pandemic and lockdown for women’s groups, with a focus on India, Nigeria, and Uganda, which responded differently to the crisis.

Learn more about COVID-19 and women's groups. 

 

Workforce

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As students and teachers adjusted to teaching and learning at home, millions of American workers saw their livelihoods affected by the pandemic, whether through job loss or the transition to working at home. 

Unemployment

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8 Million People Left the Labor Force During the Pandemic

Millions More People Were Jobless Due to COVID-19 Than Indicated by Official Statistics

The U.S. Department of Labor reported that 23 million Americans were unemployed as of April 2020, but the number might be much higher. This brief used Bureau of Labor Statistics data to provide a clearer picture of the impact of COVID-19 on joblessness.

In an episode of our AIR Informs podcast series, "The Real Unemployment Rate and Workplace After COVID-19," Irma Perez-Johnson explains why federal statistics may not capture the full impact of the pandemic on the workforce; why an accurate count matters; and what the road to economic recovery may look like. 

Christina Curnow discusses how occupational licensing can pave the way for getting people back to work in this two-minute video, "Balancing Public Safety and Work Opportunities." 


Vulnerable Workers

AIR has been analyzing the displacement of U.S. workers and the broken education-to-workforce pipeline even before the pandemic put extraordinary pressures on the U.S. economy. Explore what we're learning in this piece by Irma Perez-Johnson.

As businesses reopen, workplace changes, may create additional challenges for youth preparing for and transitioning into the workforce. Redesigning Service Delivery: Preserving Youth Talent in a Changing Landscape described four key areas youth workforce programs should focus on to empower youth to enter career pathways leading to long-term sustainability.

Staff in the Workforce Development and Economic Mobility/Prosperity Working Group at AIR have conducted landscape analyses on critical pandemic-related topics such as creating a future-ready and resilient workforce, increasing college readiness and success among underrepresented students, and helping opportunity youth and adult learners access pathways to success.