We now know the enormous toll the pandemic’s months of school closures, economic stress, illness and death had on children and their families.

Children lost months of in-person instruction and millions struggled to stay on track in their classes. Many failed and some disappeared completely. Trauma and stress were as much of a barrier to learning as a lack of internet access, and educators recognized that addressing children’s mental health would be essential for getting school back to normal.

Fortunately, research and experience tell us what’s most likely to work to help children catch up and move ahead.


At the beginning of 2021, The Hechinger Report’s members (individual readers who donated money to our nonprofit news organization) asked us if we would report on the best practices for helping the nation’s public school system recover from the pandemic.

So, we’ve spent several months traveling the country learning from schools applying best practices and from researchers and educators who have studied what works.

Children’s brains on stress

New research findings on depression and anxiety signal that the pandemic’s toll is steep, and hold lessons for parents and teachers navigating the return to school

Learning from Lockdown

Earlier this year The Hechinger Report partnered with the Education Labs at AL.com, the Dallas Morning News, Fresno Bee, Seattle Times, The Christian Science Monitor and Solutions Journalism Network to produce a series of solutions-oriented stories on the best lessons from lockdown.