As we approach the one-year anniversary of districts across the nation shutting down schools and moving to virtual education, a handful of studies paint a grim picture of what a year of this “new normal” has done to American children.
According to Fox News, a study conducted among students in San Francisco (who are just now returning to school at the end of March) revealed that school closures negatively impacted students.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that students from low-income households fell furthest behind during COVID-related school closures, with the district being especially criticized for seemingly putting more effort into renaming schools than reopening them:
The school board has come under fire from city and state public officials in recent weeks for its attention on renaming 44 schools and other issues instead of focusing on reopening.
Board members have responded that they are capable of working on more than one issue at a time.
Another study across six school districts in California described students who are learning English as a second language as “falling behind more compared to others.”
McKinsey researchers published an analysis back in December showing that Black and Hispanic children are “more likely to remain remote” and, as a result, will fall even further behind than their peers.
“The cumulative learning loss could be substantial, especially in mathematics—with students on average likely to lose five to nine months of learning by the end of this school year,” the McKinsey report stated. “Students of color could be six to 12 months behind, compared with four to eight months for white students. While all students are suffering, those who came into the pandemic with the fewest academic opportunities are on track to exit with the greatest learning loss.”
While “school-at-home” and distance learning are clearly leaving many children in the dust, a growing number of families are making the move to pull their children from school altogether and homeschool in earnest.
According to The Post Millennial, New York City school enrollment rates dove from 1.1 million students before school closures due to COVID to under 950,000 as of January.
As parents abandon the public school ship, however, the education of thousands of children is simply not being tracked at all.
In Michigan, school enrollment fell by over 50,000 but out of that figure 13,000 students are completely unaccounted for and were not officially enrolled in alternative schools or homeschool. Roughly 9,000 high school students, 2,000 middle schoolers, and 1,000 primary grade students in Texas are no longer enrolled in school but have not been enrolled elsewhere.
Florida has “lost” 88,000 students as public school enrollment in the state dropped from 2.8 million to 2.7 million.
Florida’s House Speaker Chris Sprowls called the loss of information on these children “alarming” and called on school districts “to locate these missing children. We have a moral obligation not to allow any of these children to slip through the cracks of the system.”
ABC News reported that countless students across the nation have “simply fallen off the grid…not showing up for online or in-person instruction, their whereabouts unknown by school officials.”
The most likely and vulnerable children to “slip through the cracks” are, yet again, minority and low-income students and English language learners, as well as students with disabilities, homeless students, and students in foster care.
A shocking Bellwether Education Partners study projects that about 3 million of the “most educationally marginalized students in the country” have most likely been missing from school since the very beginning of school closures.
ABC reported that this alarming problem is spread across the nation as many school districts abruptly transitioned to fully remote learning without taking steps to ensure that every single student would still be able to receive an education.
This hastily-imposted policy has failed a generation of children for an entire year. When will we stop the insanity?!
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