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Tech Report  May 1, 2021

Early Childhood Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Experiences of Arkansas Educators

SRI Authors Jennifer Nakamura, Todd A. Grindal, Kirby A Chow, Nancy K Perez



Smith, S., Nakamura, J., Granja, M., Chow, K., Grindal, T., & Perez, N. (2021). Early childhood education throughout the COVID-19 pandemic: The experiences of Arkansas educators. SRI International.


The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the experiences of young children and their caregivers over the past year. SRI Education and the National Center on Children in Poverty partnered with the Arkansas Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education (DCCECE) to examine early care and education programs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This brief, which represents the second of two reports, highlights findings from a second sample of Arkansas (AR) educators who completed surveys and focus groups in spring 2021. It includes information similar to the first report and provides additional information related to vaccination, supports for students with disabilities, and educators’ plans for moving forward.

Our representative survey of Arkansas early educators found that:

  • The AR early educators who participated in the fall 2020 and spring 2021 studies were consistent in reporting high compliance and agreement with COVID-19 pandemic procedures.
  • Nearly all AR early childhood educators reported that they changed practices in response to COVID & will continue to implement one or more of these changes even after restrictions are lifted.
  • Some ECE teachers reported concerns related to children’s ability to focus their attention during group activities and engage in cooperative play.
  • ECE program directors reported the greatest interest in receiving additional information about vaccines to share with children’s families; ECE teachers reported the greatest interest in whether ECE staff will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Both ECE directors and teachers also indicated that having someone with expert knowledge to discuss their individual concerns would motivate early educators to become vaccinated.

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