'Kids virtually lost a year of school': Some North Alabama parents concerned about coronavirus learning gap

Some students doing virtual learning have concerns they'll be behind next school year.

Posted: Apr 14, 2021 5:34 PM
Updated: Apr 14, 2021 6:31 PM

It could take up to two years to recover from the coronavirus learning gap after a rather abnormal school year. 

"It's been challenging," Linda Ashby said.

She and her son, Tristan, are both asthmatic, so she chose to keep him doing virtual learning for the rest of the school year.

"I didn't want him to go to school, get something there and bring it home and give it to me," Ashby said. "It's just easier for us to stay in our bubble this year."

However, Ashby quickly noticed the impact virtual classes had on her son's grades.

"He had Fs all across the board. He wasn't getting it. The examples, he wasn't understanding," Ashby explained.

Thankfully, her job at SAIC offered a tutoring service to help.

"Within two weeks with his tutor at Sylvan Learning, he was at an A—a low A, but still an A," Ashby said.

Tristan wasn't the only one who faced this issue. Around 2,000 students across the state are using the same tutoring company to help with their online classes.

"Everyone was so new to virtual or hybrid learning that I think it was natural that there was going to be this process and this time gap where students weren't going to learn as effectively as they would in a classroom," Sylvan Learning CEO John McAuliffe said.

He says they've noticed a loss in learning during the pandemic. Their assessment showed an average learning loss of about three months in both reading and math across grades 3 through 8.

While it may not seem like much, McAuliffe says "Kids virtually lost a year of school. This is going to be a year and a half to two year impact moving forward to try and get kids to the point they would have normally been had they been attending school."

Several school districts have announced their plans to try and close the learning gap by offering summer classes or even starting the school year early. But, Ashby says she doesn't think she'll be able to put her son through summer school.

"He needs that little break. He might be burnt out by the time he gets into 10th grade," Ashby explained.

Plus, she needs a little break herself.

"I was overwhelmed with working from home, the pandemic, and the kids here 24/7," Ashby said.

McAuliffe says parents should not worry because he expects students to catch up once everything returns to normal.

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