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'Normal Doesn't Really Exist Anymore': COVID-19 Could Cause Larger Than Ever Learning Losses

Spencer Tritt
DeKalb High School

Many students are returning to class this month, some in person and some digitally.

Those in education wonder about the long-term academic and emotional impacts of COVID-19.

Schools are used to dealing with the “summer slide,” where students forget a bit of what they learned over summer vacation. But those losses will be more profound this year.

Anneka Moltz-Hohmann just graduated from college. During her academic journey, she was unable to attend school for long stretches twice due to health issues: once in college and before that in middle school.

“The time that you lose, it really feels like a loss,” she said.

Moltz-Hohmann said her school sent her tutors to help get back on track and hopes schools can still offer support to students, even if it’s virtual.

In the spring, districts were figuring out e-learning on the fly and some students didn’t have adequate internet and technology access.

And academic achievement gaps could be much wider forlow-income and students of color.

She says she hopes students who struggle with online classes during the pandemic can learn at their own pace and not be rushed back into a “normal” schedule.

“I think along with that comes being gentle with yourself and realizing that normal doesn't really exist anymore, and that's OK,” she said.

In DeKalb, Interim Superintendent Griff Powell says, during remote learning, their district will have paraprofessional staff help students who require extra help or have Individualized Education Plans (IEP).