COVID-19 Response: K-12

As a community and a nation, we are facing unprecedented challenges in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond the impact on the health of millions, COVID-19 is radically affecting all aspects of our home and work lives as well as the lives of students in our care. Teachers and school staff are feeding students and families, transitioning to online learning against a large digital divide, and working to ensure that students have their diverse needs met.

We made a conscious shift in our strategy years ago to focus on Black, Latinx, and low-income students, and now we’re expressly concerned with addressing their needs associated with this pandemic. COVID-19 is having a clear, outsized impact on vulnerable student populations due, in part, to issues like a lack of reliable access to devices and the Internet. This will exacerbate already large opportunity gaps among students, and we’re committed to doing everything we can to mitigate that reality.

The commitment to and overall goals of our education strategies are not changing. At the same time, we are working to support our partners in this fluid situation.  We are supporting grantees, where possible, by increasing flexibility in their grants to allow them to respond to unanticipated needs.  In some ways, COVID-19 requires us to accelerate our work, especially to help partners and communities open school in the upcoming school year in some form this fall.

To that end, we are beginning to focus on the following areas:

  • Working in partnership with other funders, we are ensuring educators and families have access to high-quality materials and resources
  • We’re also investing in quality curriculum and content providers to expand digital access to their content.
  • Anticipating the key challenges facing schools, we are working to help with common obstacles, like student transitions from high school to postsecondary programs.
  • We are supporting policy groups in their response to the immediate programmatic and financial implications facing state departments of education and districts in this emergency.
  • We are supporting efforts to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on educators and families and spur action and inform decision-making based on those insights.
  • We are also learning real-time about needs through our Teacher2Teacher Network and Principal Project Network, lifting up exemplary practices, and creating opportunities for educators to learn and share with one another effective strategies for navigating these challenging times.

Below are some resources that speak to the above.


Latest on Gates Foundation Pandemic Response

What We’re Learning: COVID-19 and Education: Notable findings and data sources: Key learnings and efforts underway to understand how districts, school leaders, teachers, families, and students themselves have been impacted by COVID-19.

The strangest school year in memory is about to end. How do we get ready for the next one? Allan Golston discusses how we can help school districts as they finish classes this month and turn their attention to next year.

The Optimist is the place for regularly updated information about the foundation’s global response to COVID-19.

Schools and Students During COVID-19: Q&A with Allan Golston, President, U.S. Programs: Allan Golston gives his thoughts on the challenges facing education systems right now and shares what the Foundation is doing.

A Note on Grantee/Partner-Created Resources: Our K-12 current and/or former grantees and partners are actively working to support districts, schools, students, and their families during the school closures.  Here are just a few examples of the resources our partners have shared with us.  We are not endorsing any resources but rather lightly curating those received from our current or former grantees for sharing.

Resource List Compilations:

Resource & Link Organization Description Audience
WideOpenSchool Common Sense Media Free collection of online learning experiences for students curated by editors at Common Sense Media and representing content from over 25 providers. Teachers and families
LearningKeepsGoing ISTE Curated and searchable collection of free online learning resources for educators and parents Teachers and families
Instruction Partners Resource Hub Instruction Partners Starting point to support student care and continued learning during extended school closures. School and school systems leaders
Bellwether Education Resource Hub


Bellwether Education Extensive list of resources that support parents, educators, and policymakers, with specific lists about early childhood learning, students with disabilities, foster care, homeless, and school needs. Schools, families, policymakers

Online Curriculum/ Instructional Materials: ELEMENTARY

Resource & Link Organization Grade Levels Content Area(s) Description Audience
Khan Academy Courses & Khan Academy Kids App Khan Academy PK – 5 Early Math, Math, Reading, SEL Courses: Free online (video) courses and practice sets aligned to the Common Core. Free App:  A set of learning experiences for kids in Math and ELA, all encouraging creativity and socio-emotional skills. Good for asynchronous/ blended remote learning. Students, families, teachers
Zearn Online Lessons & Instructional Materials K-5 Math Providing free digital accounts that provide digital lessons with on-screen teachers, interactive practice and supportive remediation, aligned to the Common Core (and highly rated by EdReports). There are paper-based materials that can be printed. Teachers, students, parents can access all materials through free accounts. Districts can request district-wide accounts for a reduced cost. Teachers, students, families

Online Curriculum/ Instructional Materials: MIDDLE SCHOOL

Resource & Link Organization Grade Levels Content Area(s) Description Audience
CommonLit CommonLit 6-8 ELA: Reading A free online reading program based on a huge library of quality leveled texts that provides digital lessons, formative assessment and progress monitoring tools, teacher guides and parent guides for each text and interim assessments. Easily integrated into remote learning platforms like Clever. Also provides many of their texts in Spanish. Teachers can use materials to plan for synchronous learning or assign texts/ practice for asynchronous/ blended learning. Teachers, districts, families
Khan Academy Courses Khan Academy 6-8 Math Online (video) courses and practice sets aligned to the common core. Parents and students can navigate the resources at home or teachers can assign as part of asynchronous/ blended remote learning. Students, parents, teachers

Online Curriculum/ Instructional Materials: HIGH SCHOOL

Resource & Link Organization Grade Levels Content Area(s) Description Audience
CommonLit CommonLit 9-12 ELA: Reading A free online reading program based on a huge library of quality leveled texts that provides digital lessons, formative assessment and progress monitoring tools, teacher guides and parent guides for each text and interim assessments. Easily integrated into remote learning platforms like Clever. Also provides many of their texts in Spanish. Teachers can use materials to plan for synchronous learning or assign texts/ practice for asynchronous/ blended learning. Teachers, districts, families
Khan Academy Khan Academy 9-12 Math, AP courses (most subjects), Test Prep, College & Career Planning Online (video) courses and practice sets aligned to prominent content area standards as well as AP curricula and college entry exams. Students can navigate the resources at home or teachers can assign as part of asynchronous/ blended remote learning. Students, teachers
Illustrative Math Problem Based Curriculum & Materials Illustrative Math 9-12 Math Free online problem-based curriculum and tasks and materials aligned to CCSS. Teachers can use to plan synchronous learning or assign work for blended learning. Teachers, students

Supports for Juniors and Seniors

Resource & Link Organization Description Audience
NCAN esource Hub


National College Attainment Network (NCAN) National College Attainment Network (NCAN) Coronavirus Resource Hub – This resource list covers SAT, ACT, and AP testing updates; changes in college admission events and deposits for IHEs; support on FAFSA completion; resources on accessing low-cost internet service and technology; video conferencing tools; and webinars on college counseling, financial aid, college admissions, CARES act, etc. Schools, teachers
Immediate Next Steps for Helping High School Seniors Transition to a 2-/4-Year College or Certificate Program: 5 Actions for Districts and Schools to Take Right Now National College Attainment Network (NCAN) A streamlined playbook for district and school leaders looking for the clearest, most concrete ways to keep students on a postsecondary pathway after they graduate high school.



Districts and schools
ExcelinEd Database: Graduation Requirement Changes The Foundation for Excellence in Education Several states have introduced legislation, published guidance or enacted new policies regarding graduation requirements for high school students in light of coronavirus disruptions. The Foundation for Excellence in Education maintains a database that includes, among other things, information on graduation requirements across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Below, we detail recent policy changes in several states Students and families

Students with Disabilities


Resource & Link Organization Description Audience
Resources for Educators and Parents National Center for Learning Disabilities Immediate actions for parents and educators to support students with disabilities with the transition to online learning. Teachers and families
Resources for Educating Students with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Crisis National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools This compilation of resources assists educators in developing comprehensive plans for students with disabilities and creating effective and high-quality learning environments for all during this evolving national transition. This site includes links to individual resources and also resource hub sites that have developed a wide range of tools, frameworks and guidance documents for students with disabilities. Teachers and schools
Understood Understood has created this COVID-19 resource page to help people who learn and think differently thrive at home, at school, and at work. Educators, caregivers, and employers of persons with disabilities
Educating All Learners Alliance The Educating All Learners Alliance is an alliance of organizations deeply committed to the success of students with disabilities. It is creating community, coalescing conversations, and curating resources that accelerate the ability to serve all learners during the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers and school leaders

Multilingual Learners/English Language Learners

Resource & Link Organization Grade Levels/ ELD Proficiency Description Audience
Remote Learning Supports for ELL/ MLL Students Teaching Matters ALL This is a webinar/ tutorial for teachers of ELLs on how to adapt remote learning for ELLs/ MLLs. It provides an overview of best practices for language acquisition and how those can be applied to the remote learning space. ELL/ MLL teachers
Supporting MLLs. ELLs during COVID-19 Shutdown TNTP ALL This document provides guidance for districts, schools and teachers on how to support MLLs/ ELLs during school shutdown. Additionally, it contains a curated list of instructional materials for ELLs by grade-level and proficiency level. Teachers, district leaders
BrainPOP ELL BrainPop Gr 2 – HS; ALL proficiency levels (students given placement test) Provides interactive instruction in language development and literacy for ELLs. A placement test puts students into one of 3 language levels (that correlate to WIDA’s ELD levels) and assigns units that include practice with oral language, grammar, listening, reading comprehension and writing. Teachers can monitor student progress through units. Curriculum is adaptive and has several checkpoints. This resource is available to schools, teachers and students affected by COVID-19 closures for free. Students, teachers, families
Quill Diagnostics & Learning Tools Grades 1 – Postsecondary; ALL proficiency levels Quill has adapted research-based writing instruction into a free, digital platform for students and teachers (+ a premium model for schools – they are offering premium for free through the end of the 2019-20 school year). This includes a diagnostic for ELL writers that signals which lessons teachers should use and a compiled ELL series for writing instruction. Teachers, students

Social Emotional Supports

Resource & Link Organization Grade Levels Description Audience
CASEL Resources for Districts & Schools CASEL General A compilation of SEL resources for districts and schools District leaders, schools, educators
Khan Academy SEL Resources Khan Academy Elementary/ MS/ HS Video lessons for elementary/middle/high school students on growth mindset. Video courses for teachers to build growth mindset in the classroom. Teachers, students

District Continuity Plans & Other Resources


Resource & Link District(s)/Organization Description Audience
RESTART & RECOVERY: Considerations for Teaching & Learning CCSSO Supporting states and school systems in addressing the critical set of challenges they will face as they plan for—and restart—teaching and learning in the 2020-2021 school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. State and district leaders
Reunite, Renew and Thrive: SEL Roadmap for Reopening School CASEL Support school leaders and leadership teams in planning for the transition back to schools to build upon existing efforts around community-building, school climate improvement, student well-being and mental health, trauma-responsive learning environments, restorative practices, and social and emotional competency development. State and district leaders
CRPE List & Blog 46 districts nationwide An initial, baseline database of school districts’ publicly-posted plans for supporting students, with a range of size and geography.   School system leaders, grantees/ intermediaries
FutureED Report FutureEd published a resource: “What Congressional Covid Funding Means for K-12 Schools,” which lists 12 allowable uses of the $13.2 billion dedicated to K-12 relief in the CARES Act. School system and district leaders
A Roadmap for Schools and Systems CatalystEd The Roadmap provides guidance covering six areas – Academics and Student Support; Social and Emotional Student and Family Experience; Talent; IT and Operations; Finance; and Leadership – and offers leaders a structured way to think through and access help for the actions schools need to take from now to summer and beyond, while centering their values and their commitment to equity. School and school systems leaders
Learning Acceleration Guide The New Teacher Project (TNTP) Guidance to help school and district stakeholders responsible for planning for the upcoming school years, organized around a few key questions:
– How do we create a plan to accelerate student learning?
– How do we accelerate student learning in the next two years?
– What other challenges should we be anticipating as we plan to accelerate student learning?
School and school systems leaders