Monday numbers: A closer look at the push to reopen NC’s schools

By: - June 29, 2020 5:30 am

Gov. Roy Cooper, top health officials and the Department of Public Instruction are expected to announce on Wednesday which of three plans should be implemented to reopen schools most safely this fall. Depending on the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials will decide on a plan that includes minimal social distancing, one that promotes moderate social distancing, and one that provides for remote learning only.

The StrongSchoolsNC toolkit is based on current CDC guidelines. But officials are also having to balance how teachers and parents feel about children returning to a physical classroom setting, as well as how much learning loss students have sustained from being away from school for so many weeks. The so-called “COVID slide” can affect student retention, dropout rates and future earning potential.

Today’s Monday numbers column takes a closer look at attitudes toward reopening our schools in August, and the ripple effect from being closed for so long.

25 — Percentage of North Carolinians who say the state should lift all restrictions on schools, businesses, and restaurants (Source: Public Policy Polling, June 22-23)

56 — Percentage of North Carolinians who believe the state should continue to move slowly and lift restrictions in stages in order to protect vulnerable populations (Ibid.)

65 — Percentage of educators polled by EdWeek’s Research Center in late May who said they would prefer that schools remain closed to slow the spread of COVID-19 (Source: EdWeek)

12 — Percentage of teachers who said the ongoing pandemic may prompt them to leave the profession early (Ibid.)

36 — Percentage of teachers, principals and school district leaders who identified as having a health condition that would place them at higher risk in suffering adverse effects from the novel coronavirus (Ibid.)

30 — Percentage of gains students could have lost in reading from the prior year due to the COVID slide (Source: NWEA/

50 — Percentage of the gains lost in mathematics from the previous year (Ibid.)

15-20 — Percentage increase in the educational achievement gap  for Black, Hispanic, and low-income students (Harvard School of Public Health)

3.1 — Estimated months of educational loss for a student, assuming in-classroom instruction resumes this fall (McKinsey & Company)

6.8 — Estimated months educational loss for a student, assuming in-classroom instruction resumes by January 2021. (Ibid.)

2-9  —Estimated percentage of high schools students who could drop out because of the coronavirus (Ibid.)

If that proves true, here’s how those percentages would play out:

648,000 — Estimated average number of high school dropouts nationwide resulting from the extended disruption in learning  caused by COVID-19 (Ibid.)

114,000 — Estimated average number of Black high school dropouts resulting from the extended disruption in learning  (Ibid.)

233,000 —  Estimated average number of Latinx high school dropouts  resulting from the extended disruption in learning  (Ibid.)

$61,000 to $82,000 —  Estimated loss in lifetime earnings (in 2020 dollars) based as a result of COVID-19 learning losses (Ibid.)

1,605 – The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in North Carolina on Sunday, June 28

62,142 – The total number of laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of June 28

2 — Number of days until North Carolina reveals its school reopening plan

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Clayton Henkel
Clayton Henkel

Communications Coordinator Clayton Henkel manages the NC Newsline website and daily newsletter, while also producing daily audio commentaries and the weekly News and Views radio program/podcast.