Anya Kamenetz

Anya Kamenetz is an education correspondent at NPR. She joined NPR in 2014, working as part of a new initiative to coordinate on-air and online coverage of learning. Since then the NPR Ed team has won a 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award for Innovation, and a 2015 National Award for Education Reporting for the multimedia national collaboration, the Grad Rates project.

Kamenetz is the author of several books. Her latest is The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life (PublicAffairs, 2018). Her previous books touched on student loans, innovations to address cost, quality, and access in higher education, and issues of assessment and excellence: Generation Debt; DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, and The Test.

Kamenetz covered technology, innovation, sustainability, and social entrepreneurship for five years as a staff writer for Fast Company magazine. She's contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine and Slate, and appeared in documentaries shown on PBS and CNN.

For 6-year-old Sadie Hernandez, the first day of online school started at her round, wooden kitchen table in Jacksonville, Fla. She turned on an iPad and started talking to her first grade teacher, Robin Nelson.

"Are you ready to do this online stuff?" her teacher asks, in a video sent to NPR by Hernandez's mother, Audrey.

"Yeah," Sadie responds.
"It's kind of scary isn't it?"
"Kind of."

The U.S. Senate's $2 trillion coronavirus relief package includes more than $30 billion for education, with more than $14 billion for colleges and universities and at least $13.5 billion for the nation's K-12 schools.

The vast majority of states have closed public schools in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and many districts are now faced with a dilemma: how to provide remote learning to students without running afoul of civil rights and disability laws.

Nearly 30 million children in the U.S. count on schools for free or low-cost breakfast, lunch, snacks and sometimes dinner — but most of those children are now at home. At least 114,000 public and private schools have been closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, affecting the vast majority of the nation's K-12 students, according to an ongoing tally by Education Week.

Updated on March 16 at 1 p.m. ET to reflect new guidance on play dates during school closures. This is an evolving story and guidance from health authorities is evolving quickly.

The spread of coronavirus has compelled hundreds of K-12 schools in the U.S. to close, affecting more than 850,000 students, according to an analysis by Education Week. And those numbers are certain to increase in the coming days, as concerned parents call for more school closures.

Updated at 11:44 a.m. ET Tuesday

A growing number of U.S. colleges have canceled in-person classes because of the coronavirus. The closures began in Washington state, and now include Harvard University, Columbia University, Princeton University, Rice University, Stanford University, Hofstra University, University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Washington, among others. As of midday Tuesday, more than half a million students are affected by the cancellations.

So far just a few U.S. higher education students have confirmed exposure to COVID-19, mainly through contact with patients in hospitals.

When kids at Warner Arts Magnet Elementary School act up, they aren't sent straight to the principal's office. Instead, many students at the high-poverty school in Nashville, Tenn., go to the "BeWell" room.

The serene space is awash in sunlight and brimming with plants. There are yoga mats, toys, a lounging nook and soothing music drifting out of a desk speaker. In this room, teacher Riki Rattner, who is also trained as a yoga instructor, helps students practice deep breathing and check in with their emotions.

Ryan Pascal, a 17-year-old student at Palos Verdes High School near Los Angeles, says when her school holds active shooter drills, it's "chaos." The first time it happened, not long after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in 2018, rumors started flying over Snapchat and text that the school was really under attack.

"We had some students trying to stack up desks to blockade the door. We had some students sort of joking around because they weren't sure how to handle this. There are other students who are very, very afraid."

In southeast India, rising out of green fields roamed by herds of goats, is a brand-new set of white towers connected by courtyards, balconies and breezeways. This is SRM University Andhra Pradesh.

A teenage girl, Greta Thunberg, has become the world-famous face of the climate strike movement. But she's far from alone: Thunberg has helped rally and inspire others — especially girls.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos endured a withering barrage of questions on Thursday about her handling of a program meant to provide debt relief to federal student loan borrowers who say they were defrauded by for-profit colleges.

"Madame Secretary, your refusal to process claims is inflicting serious harm on students," Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., said in his opening statement. "These defrauded borrowers have been left with piles of debt, worthless degrees and none of the jobs that were promised."

In Glacier Bay, Alaska, mountains rush up farther and faster from the shoreline than almost anywhere else on the planet. Humpback whales, halibut and sea otters ply the waters that lap rocky, pine-crowned islands, and you can stick a bare hook in the water and pull out dinner about as fast as it takes to say so.

This is the place 31-year-old Laura Marcus chose for her Arete Project. Or just maybe, this place chose her.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Now by seaplane, fishing boat and kayak to Southeast Alaska. There, NPR's Anya Kamenetz met a young woman who's trying to reinvent higher education. Her aim, to use the wilderness to prepare diverse students for lives of purpose in an ever more fragile world.

School shootings like the recent one in Santa Clarita, Calif., have focused the nation's attention on school safety. And schools across the U.S. are wrestling with how to prevent themselves from becoming the site of the next tragedy.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Just over half of children in the United States — 53 percent — now own a smartphone by the age of 11. And 84 percent of teenagers now have their own phones, immersing themselves in a rich and complex world of experiences that adults sometimes need a lot of decoding to understand.

These stats come from a new, nationally representative survey of media use among children ages 8-18, by Common Sense Media, which has been tracking this since 2003.

If you want to get students fired up about climate change, poop is a good place to start.

A federal judge has fined U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for contempt of court for failing to stop collecting loans from former students of a now-defunct chain of for-profit colleges.

The court ruling orders the Education Department to pay a $100,000 fine. The judge said Devos had violated an order to stop collecting loans owed by students who had been defrauded by Corinthian Colleges.

In a photo taken last March, a teenage boy is sitting at his desk with a plastic pellet gun that looks a lot like an AR-15. The airsoft rifle is propped up on the arm of a chair, pointing at the ceiling, and the boy, Eric, is looking at the camera. We're not using his last name to protect his privacy.

Eric's friend took the picture. At the time, Eric says, he didn't realize his friend had captioned the photo "Don't come to school Monday" and had sent it to others on Snapchat.

More teens and young adults — particularly girls and young women — are reporting being depressed and anxious, compared with comparable numbers from the mid-2000s. Suicides are up too in that time period, most noticeably among girls ages 10 to 14.

These trends are the basis of a scientific controversy.

One hypothesis that has gotten a lot of traction is that with nearly every teen using a smartphone these days, digital media must take some of the blame for worsening mental health.

On a summer afternoon, Ciara Whelan, a teacher at a New York City elementary school, knocks on the apartment door of one of her students in the Bronx.

Melissa, the student's mother, welcomes her guest with a huge platter of snacks — shrimp rolls and dill dip. Melissa explains that this past school year — third grade — her daughter, Sapphira, fell behind in her reading because she got a phone and spent too much time messaging her friends on apps like TikTok. (We're not using their last names to protect the student's privacy.)

Anya Kamenetz is an NPR education correspondent, a host of Life Kit and author of The Art Of Screen Time. This story draws from the book and recent reporting for Life Kit's guide, Parenting: Screen Time And Your Family.

Elise Potts picked up her 17-month-old daughter, Eliza, from daycare recently. When they got home they were greeted by a strange scene.

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