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During spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying public health advisories forced K-12 schools throughout the United States to suspend in-person instruction. School personnel rapidly transitioned to remote provision of academic instruction and wellness services such as school meals and counseling services. The aim of this study was to investigate how schools responded to the transition to remote supports, including assessment of what readiness characteristics schools leveraged or developed to facilitate those transitions. Semi-structured interviews informed by school wellness implementation literature were conducted in the spring of 2020. Personnel (n = 50) from 39 urban and rural elementary schools nationwide participated. The readiness = motivation capacity2 (R = MC2) heuristic, developed by Scaccia and colleagues, guided coding to determine themes related to schools’ readiness to support student wellness in innovative ways during the pandemic closure. Two distinct code sets emerged, defined according to the R = MC2 heuristic (1) Innovations: roles that schools took on during the pandemic response, and (2) Readiness: factors influencing schools’ motivation and capacity to carry out those roles. Schools demonstrated unprecedented capacity and motivation to provide crucial wellness support to students and families early in the COVID-19 pandemic. These efforts can inform future resource allocation and new strategies to implement school wellness practices when schools resume normal operations.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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