School Discipline in the Age of COVID-19: Exploring Patterns, Policy, and Practice Considerations

Richard O. Welsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Racial disparities in suspensions have acquired greater significance given the substantial lost learning time, additional trauma and stress, and myriad racial inequalities exposed by COVID-19. This study examines how the COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping school discipline patterns and highlights salient policy and practice considerations with an emphasis on racial inequality in exclusionary discipline. The results indicate that each school year (2019–20, 2020–21, and 2021–22) of the pandemic has resulted in distinct changes to disciplinary trends resulting in three eras of school discipline in the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020–21, suspensions declined dramatically as most students were in virtual classrooms, yet African American students and students with disabilities disproportionately received exclusionary discipline. In 2021–22, suspensions seem to be on the rise as educators grapple with stress accompanying the return to in-person learning. The commonalities of heightened mental health needs and on the job support needs persist regardless of the pivots in instructional modes across the past three school years. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-308
Number of pages18
JournalPeabody Journal of Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'School Discipline in the Age of COVID-19: Exploring Patterns, Policy, and Practice Considerations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this