About the Journal
IJEPL is a refereed electronic journal dedicated to enriching the education policy, leadership, and research use knowledge bases, and promoting exploration and analysis of policy alternatives.
This mixed-method study evaluates P–12 principals’ and district officials’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic amid the abrupt change to virtual leadership. Professional learning needs are identified in relation to the three domains of leadership as seen in literature: school management, instructional leadership, and program administration. The quantitative study instrument, which included an online survey given to 270 principals and district officials in South Carolina, allowed principals and superintendents to rank order their professional development needs to be better prepared for the virtual principalship. The top need expressed across all races, genders, and school settings was virtual instructional leadership. The qualitative measure includes interviews of 10 principals/district officials, and five major themes were identified as administrative struggles/priorities in the virtual principalship during the pandemic: increased presence and communication; projecting calm during uncertainty; displaying flexibility, empathy, and patience; knowledge of technological capabilities; and a systems approach to sustained instructional leadership. The study showed a heightened need for soft skills development.