Announcement from Local Editor Mike Semel, Deputy Local Editor Monica Norton, Education Editor Kathryn Tolbert, Deputy Education Editor April Bethea, Local Enterprise Editor Lynda Robinson, Investigative Editor Jeff Leen and Deputy Investigative Editor David Fallis:

We are delighted to announce that the Education Writers Association recognized The Washington Post's 2020 education coverage with two first place awards and four finalists. Ian Shapira won in the Public Service category for his reporting on racism at the Virginia Military Institute and Hannah Natanson won in the News category for her accountability coverage of Fairfax County Schools' problems pivoting to remote instruction last spring.

Of Hannah's work the judges wrote: "Authoritative writing, holding school officials and learning platform providers accountable while providing solid explanatory journalism about what went wrong when the pandemic closed schools, switched to online learning, then had to shut that down.”

“It would be easy to dismiss the glitches the Fairfax district was having as being a routine pandemic-related problem, but Hannah Natanson stayed on top of these issues, telling the story of the problems through the voices of students, parents and teachers, and holding the district accountable for its mistakes.”

Ian's reporting drew these comments from the judges: “The jaw-dropping anecdotes, one after another, slice open the underbelly of a prestigious institution. It’s often a cliche to say journalists should be elevating underrepresented voices, but this story shows why the phrase is repeated often.”

“Compelling, heartbreaking, and timely investigation of racism at one of America’s iconic military institutions. With great sensitivity and resourcefulness, Ian Shapira brought to light voices who may well have been left silent. A model of public service, the story sparked almost immediate change.”

Laura Meckler was a finalist in two categories: Beat reporting and Features. On beat reporting the judges said: “Overall through all her pieces, Meckler shows a great range of types of beat coverage – from policy to the personal and combines this with well-structured storytelling that either breaks your heart, makes you mad, or helps readers get inside bureaucracies to better understand decision making.”

In Features, judges praised Laura's story "The Test of Their Lives:" "This story stood out because of its strong narrative, showing how students and teachers worked to stick to their goals. It also felt more complete, cataloging successes along with the challenges. I found myself rooting for the students and their teacher through their high moments and low ones.”

In News, Hannah, John Woodrow Cox and Perry Stein were finalists with Trump’s Words, Bullied Kids, Scarred Schools. The judges said, “Incredible investigative piece documenting the rise of bullying and discrimination, with many gut-wrenching examples, that occurred during the Trump administration.”

And Investigative was a finalist with "At College Health Centers, Students Battle Misdiagnoses and Inaccessible Care" by Jenn Abelson, Nicole Dungca, Meryl Kornfield and Andrew Ba Tran.

Comment from the judges: “Powerful piece detailing the incompetence of college health care and the impact on young lives. Great, insightful quotes made the piece come alive.”