By the numbers: How schools fought back during the pandemic

The study shows that during the 2020-21 school year, shortages of key staff were common – a problem that has continued even after the peak of the pandemic.

In the 2020-21 school year, more than a quarter of schools employed unlicensed teachers, and 24 percent had no counselors.

And of the nation’s 49 million public school students, nearly 1.7 million attended a school with a police officer or security guard but no school counselor, a statistic that Miguel Cardona, the US education secretary, highlighted Wednesday. Black, Native American, and multiracial students were more likely than whites to attend these schools.

The pandemic reinforced the need for highly qualified teachers and health professionals in schools. Students emerged from the lockdown era behind academically and with high rates of anxiety and other mental health challenges.

In the 2020-21 school year, discipline decreased. But federal officials cautioned that those numbers should not be compared to previous data because physical school buildings were largely partially or completely closed.

Yet harsh discipline and differences by race did not disappear, even at the youngest ages.

Almost 1,000 preschool students were suspended. Although black children make up 17 percent of the pre-K population, they accounted for 31 percent of those who received out-of-school suspensions.

There were also significant racial disparities in access to advanced courses, a priority for the Biden administration.

High schools with high enrollment of black and Latino students were less likely than other high schools to offer calculus and computer science.

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And 39 percent of all public middle schools did not offer algebra, which can prevent students from accessing advanced math in later grades.

“We spent years fighting Covid,” said Mr. Cardona. “Now we must fight complacency.”