Four Years Later: Assessing The Damage Of COVID School Shutdowns

Some communities have been hit harder than others. Four Years Later: Assessing The Damage Of COVID School Shutdowns Giphy

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It’s now been four years since COVID-19 was declared a worldwide pandemic. And whether that seems like yesterday or you can’t seem to remember a time before the lock downs, it’s obvious that there have been some incredible repercussions not just from the disease but also the measures taken in an effort to slow its spread.

Perhaps no group has sustained more pronounced long-term damage than students … and we’re just now starting to recognize the magnitude of those widespread school closures.

Beyond the headlines

There have been countless reports about learning loss and mental health issues associated with the abrupt shift to remote learning. But when experts dig into the data, the magnitude of the situation comes into an even starker focus.

Shutdowns were initially seen as a necessary precaution against the spread of the virus. In hindsight, however, the prevailing wisdom is that students were kept out of the classroom for longer than they should’ve been — especially since the evidence shows those shutdowns played a negligible role in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Facing the consequences

Even schools that reopened fairly quickly have seen a significant dip in student performance, and those that stayed closed longer have experienced an even more pronounced impact.

A study found that in school districts that spent most of the 2020-21 school year in remote learning, students on average were more than half a grade behind in math. Students that learned primarily in person during that year were about one-third of a grade behind.

Evidence shows that schools in low-income communities were hit even harder.

As teachers and students work to regain what they lost, we’re all left with a clear reminder of how important in-person learning is. And experts hope officials remember that when and if another major health crisis emerges.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee March 19th, 2024
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