This fall, we surveyed all the Mississippi early learning collaboratives to get a clearer picture of the challenges and successes they experienced during the COVID crisis in the 2020-2021 school year. The information collected was published in our newest report titled, Resilience: Pandemic Impact on Early Learning Collaboratives (2020-2021).

We gathered information in six key areas:

  • Student enrollment
  • Teacher retention
  • Closures
  • Types of learning
  • Raise the Rate (additional 2020 dollars)
  • Lessons learned

Major takeaways from Resilience: Pandemic Impact on Early Learning Collaboratives (2020-2021)

In this investigation, we learned none of the collaboratives permanently closed their programs, although learning had to change to respond to the exigencies of the pandemic. Despite evolving enrollment, ELCs were able to maintain maximum class sizes of 20 students. ELCs were also able to retain teachers and teaching assistants through the entire 2020-2021 school year. Every ELC used the additional funds provided by the 2020 per-pupil rate increase to extend or maintain high-quality learning for their students in this critical time. Today, ELCs are poised to learn from each other, continuing to make Mississippi’s ELC program the best in the country. 

“The pandemic has changed how our pre-K classrooms operate…Our teachers and teaching assistants have gone above and beyond to make sure our program continues,” stated Jennifer Calvert, Monroe Early Learning Collaborative.

Rachel Canter, Executive Director of Mississippi First, added, “Mississippi’s early learning collaboratives played a key family support role by providing high-quality pre-K in a time of great need. Even though pre-K looked different than ‘normal,’ providers offered students safe, consistent, and quality learning environments throughout the year.” Rachel Canter, executive director of Mississippi First.

Early learning collaboratives in Mississippi were resilient during the 2020-2021 school year. Like all schools and educational programs across the globe, ELCs had to make dramatic accommodations in order to ensure safety. Having access to additional resources during the most trying time in education allowed ELCs to make the shifts they needed within the constrictions of COVID-19. ELCs’ ability to offer high-quality pre-K in Mississippi, especially in this time of crisis, will have a lasting, positive impact on kids throughout their entire educational journey.

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