How will America recover from a broken school year?
For me, as someone whose entire career has been based in low income communities, it’s scary looking at the data. I know 20 years from now we’re not going to make excuses for future adults and say, ‘Oh, but those were Covid kids. “
Pedro Martinez: We saw strong differences in academic achievement in our district between our kids who attended distance school and our kids who were there in person – in some math classes, distance school had a drop of 30 points proficiency rates on state assessment tests from 2019 to 2021. This was also evident in other districts of Texas. I keep saying that the drop in marks is not a reflection of the ability of my students, it is not a reflection of the work of my teachers. It was really the conditions last year.
The share of low-income students attending a distant school at the end of 2020 was 64%. It was 48% for high income students.
Schwinn: In Tennessee, about 80% of families chose to return their children in person last year, while 20% did not. There were real compromises. Where students were less likely to be in school, I saw more children hit by cars, who were in ATV crashes, or were shot and killed – sorts of tragedies that might not have happened if these children had been in a school building. In many ways, deciding whether or not to send your child to school during a wave of Covid – that was an impossible choice.
Jenny Radesky: Whether students had access to a virtual or in-person school had a significant impact on their mental health. In some districts here, we have seen children return to school in person in the fall of 2020 and thrive once they return. We surveyed about 300 parents of elementary school students in Michigan and found that distance learners had significantly higher hyperactivity, peer problems, challenge, and difficulty sleeping than children. attending school in person.
The school is so organized and grounded for the kids. I focus on children with autism, ADHD, deficits in executive functioning, trauma, learning disabilities and developmental delays. They see the world in an atypical way and are often misunderstood. Without the school environment, which helps them contain their thoughts and emotions, many of my patients were totally deregulated. I’ve heard story after story about sleep issues and regressing to behaviors kids haven’t shown for a long time. They simply did not have access to the same therapies and role models as their peers. I had to double the number of hours I worked with patients to meet needs.
I also saw huge disparities in the support the children had. I practice in both Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti which has a higher rate of child poverty and incarceration and substance abuse. The General Motors plant there closed in 2010. During the lockdown it was the families in Ann Arbor who called and said I need help – please send me a new referral to a therapist. I have heard much less often from the families of Ypsilanti, who may not have had wait to help.