Children, Youth, Families & Schools, Nebraska Center for Research on


Document Type


Date of this Version



Great Plains Research 33 (Spring 2023):47–57.


Copyright © 2023 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln


During the spring of 2020, Nebraska’s 983 public schools sat vacant, and Nebraska’s 329,290 Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12 students were learning in environments other than school. Educators were expected to pivot quickly from traditional classroom instruction to remote experiences. Understanding the effects of the pandemic on educators is necessary to effectively meet their needs and the needs of students. The purpose of this study was to identify and describe the experiences of Nebraska’s urban and rural PreK–Grade 12 educators during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. In surveys collected in July 2020, participants (i.e., superintendents, principals, and teachers) completed both fixed-response items and one open-ended question that assessed experiences during the initial pandemic-related school closings. The results indicate educators identified lack of family help and inability to engage students as a top concern about student academic progress. Educators reported dramatic increases in stress during school closures. Many reported coping only somewhat well or worse. Educators also reported personal challenges with remote instruction, including mental health issues and blurred work-and home-life boundaries. Significant differences were found between rural and urban educators, as well as between elementary and secondary educators. Direct quotes from participants vividly describe their lived experiences.