A RAND Corp. survey released this month has found that as of November 2021, the top three concerns of 359 district leaders in the American School District Panel were the mental health of students, teachers and principals, respectively, write study co-authors Melissa Kay Diliberti and Heather L. Schwartz.

Another key finding: Three-quarters of district leaders said that political polarization about COVID-19 safety or vaccines has interfered with their ability to educate students during the current academic year.

In their recommendations, Diliberti and Schwartz write that districts should come up with contingency plans for 2022-23 “by mapping out scenarios that reflect continued staff shortages [and] investigating alternative staffing arrangements through new partnerships,” as well as “develop communication plans that anticipate divided opinion among parents and staff.”

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