COVID-19 and Elementary School Operating Status: The Impact on Mothers’ Employment

Awarded Scholars:
Leah Ruppanner, University of Melbourne
Caitlyn Collins, Washington University in St. Louis
William Scarborough, University of North Texas
Liana Christin Landivar, University of Maryland, College Park
Project Date:
Feb 2021
Award Amount:

Due to the decentralized nature of the U.S. education system and the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic, school districts across the nation operated under widely divergent guidelines during the 2020-2021 academic year. Sociologist Leah Ruppanner and her colleagues will examine the broad variation in school reopening following pandemic-related shutdowns and assess its social and financial consequences, with a focus on mothers’ employment. They will compile a comprehensive database on school district operating statuses targeting elementary schools in all states and the District of Columbia (the Elementary School Operating Status database, or ESOS). The investigators have already collected and coded school district reopening status data for 22 states. The ESOS provides information on: 1) operating status (fully in-person instruction, hybrid, fully remote); 2) type of hybrid program (part-week, part-day, alternating weeks); and 3) the date collected and source websites. The sample includes districts with elementary schools and a minimum of 500 students, reflecting about 9,000 of the 13,000 school districts serving all ages and population sizes. The investigators will merge the ESOS with data on school districts in the Current Population Survey, American Community Survey, and Small Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE), to investigate the extent to which variations in school operating policy are associated with variations in mothers’ employment and how these patterns vary across marital status, race, and social class.


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