Murray State Theses and Dissertations


In the spring of 2020, many public places closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most public schools in the United States suddenly closed buildings as educators and students scrambled to adapt to distance education. This phenomenological, qualitative study holistically explores elementary educators’ experiences during the extended school closures. The 18current elementary educators who participated in individual interviews, served rural, elementary students. Individual interviews allowed participants to discuss and explain their experiences concerning methods, materials, time commitments, and communication with colleagues, parents, and students. They also discussed how they used feedback to alter their teaching. The interviews were conducted during the closures instead of after the closures, without the benefit of hindsight. They provided insight to challenges and hopes for future changes. The research is conducted within a P-20 context. Educators were required to be innovative as they gathered and created resources to meet the needs of their rural students. Educators demonstrated leadership in communicating needs and working together with parents, colleagues, and stakeholders to provide educational requirements of students. Educators were able to implement new technology and structure to their teaching. The educators were in a position that allowed them to understand the diverse situations and needs of their students as they worked in the challenging COVID-19 response. Some educators were able to shift their pedagogy to meet the dynamic situation, others were not. This study does not discuss the effectiveness of the response, it examines the experience during the response.

Year manuscript completed


Year degree awarded


Author's Keywords

P-20, COVID-19, distance education, elementary educator, phenomenology, interview

Dissertation Committee Chair

Randal H Wilson

Committee Member

Melissa A Chapman

Committee Member

Felicia Bates

Document Type