Pre-emptive school closures are frontline community mitigation measures recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for implementation during severe pandemics. This study describes the spatiotemporal patterns of publicly announced school closures implemented in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and assesses how public K-12 districts adjusted their methods of education delivery and provision of subsidized meals. During February 18-June 30, 2020, we used daily systematic media searches to identify publicly announced COVID-19-related school closures lasting ≥1 day in the United States (US). We also collected statewide school closure policies from state government websites. Data on distance learning and subsidized meal programs were collected from a stratified sample of 600 school districts. The first COVID-19-associated school closure occurred on February 27, 2020 in Washington state. By March 30, 2020, all but one US public school districts were closed, representing the first-ever nearly synchronous nationwide closure of public K-12 schools in the US. Approximately 100,000 public schools were closed for ≥8 weeks because of COVID-19, affecting >50 million K-12 students. Of 600 districts sampled, the vast majority offered distance learning (91.0%) and continued provision of subsidized meal programs (78.8%) during the closures. Despite the sudden and prolonged nature of COVID-19-associated school closures, schools demonstrated flexibility by implementing distance learning and alternate methods to continue subsidized meal programs.

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