With the 2020-21 school year just around the corner, educators are scrambling to figure out a plan that will work to safely and effectively teach children during the COVID-19 crisis. When the pandemic hit in Spring 2020, schools closed and teachers began to experiment with remote learning. Because this is an unprecedented occurrence in our educational history, we are still trying to estimate the long-term effects of missing those final months of school. The bigger question now is: if schools don’t reopen in the Fall, what will be the long-term effects of an entire year without proper learning?
Remote Learning Didn’t Produce Great Results
According to Megan Kuhfeld, a research scientist who co-authored a report entitled “The COVID-19 Slide,” students lost ground academically since the closure of the schools. If students return to school in the fall, in reading skills they will have made only 70% of the gains they were expected to make, and in math skills they will have made only 50% of the gains they were expected to make. If schools do not reopen, the slide will continue, setting children back even farther.
Megan notes that these types of losses in academic skills are not across the board. Some families are equipped with good devices, they have adequate study atmosphere in the home, and the parents are able to assist in learning. Those students will not face the same losses as those families without computers, internet, and safe places to learn.
The Socioemotional Impact of COVID-19 on Students
John King Jr., the president of the Education Trust, agrees that students will lose ground academically due to the extended months away from direct learning in schools. He notes that schools provide a place of structure, support, and security that many kids don’t have at home. The socioemotional support that schools provide is critical. Create support in a virtual environment for students living in traumatic situations.
When Hurricane Katrina kept many students from attending school, research shows that in the months following the hurricane, students had problems concentrating and also displayed symptoms of depression. If we apply this to the COVID-19 crisis, we can assume that many students will be experiencing similar emotional symptoms. Some students may have parents who lost their jobs, or even their lives. Students may have anxiety about catching the virus themselves. Maybe they don’t have enough food. These social and emotional problems will get in the way of their academic learning.
What Can We Expect?
If COVID-19 continues to keep schools closed during the 2020-21 school year, we can expect more remote learning. However, there will be some academic loss in the process, especially in the area of mathematics. Educators will find ways to assess students so they know at which level to begin teaching.
One study predicts that students will enter school with more variability in their academic skills, which means some students will be at high levels and others at low levels. There will be a need for more individualized learning, to meet every student where he or she is at.
At The Tenney School, we have always stressed individualized learning. Our educational system is already set up to deal with the COVID-19 crisis effectively. During the summer, we have been offering classes that are both online and in-person. We are ahead of most other schools in readiness for the new school year. Thus, your student will get an excellent opportunity to learn at The Tenney School this coming school year. To learn more about how we are planning to teach children in the fall, please contact us.