Parents, Educators Raise Concerns About the ‘Lost Year’ of Academics

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Summer is always a time for plentiful fun and free time for students. 

But with many school districts not having in-person classes full time this year due to Covid-19, some people in the school community are concerned about how well students will fare this fall.  

Tina Brady thinks her daughter Braylin, who just completed fourth grade, will be fine, since she had in-person school each day and had to quarantine only for one short period. She does, however, worry about her older daughter Keely, 17, who’ll be a senior this fall at West Babylon Senior High School.

“She was only there every other day,” says Brady.

For her junior year, Keely had 80-minute learning blocks for math, English, social studies and science.  

“There are definite concerns,” her mom says. “She does work hard, but I think there’s going to be a gap there.”

Because of the disruption in learning, Brady had Keely opt out of her English Regents, which was optional this year. “I didn’t want to make her feel more stressed out,” says Brady.

Missing out on track and other social activities was also an issue for Keely, who will continue working with a tutor this summer for help with her SAT and math.

“I definitely feel she missed out,” says Brady. “They need to be in school all together, every day, without restrictions.”

A Tutor’s Take  

This summer, Heidi Fisher, a Port Washington-based tutor for middle school through college students, is working with more students than usual.

“The shift I’m seeing is tutoring becoming more of a hybrid,” says Fisher, who notes that the traditional one-hour lesson per week is changing. “There’s really a lot of communication with parents and students. That’s really key now, particularly with remote learning.” 

Parents and students are also questioning the validity and value of SAT and ACT tests, Fisher says.

“I think Covid really pushed that to the forefront,” she says. “I think those conversations were starting to happen, but now they’re really more front and center.” 

These days, a tutor needs to be more of a jack-of-all-trades.

“It can’t be just content anymore,” Fisher says. “It’s also being intuitively focused on the student and their need beyond just what’s on the page. As tutors, we have to be more and more flexible and responsive than ever.” 

Teachers Weigh In

“In my experience, a lot of teaching and learning went on this year,” says Ivy Cohen, who teaches third grade special ed at the Lawrence Primary School. “The children really became very responsible for their own learning. They became very independent learners. They developed excellent technology skills.”

For the most part, Cohen taught her students in the classroom, though there were several weeks of remote learning. 

This summer the Lawrence School District has expanded its summer reading program.

“It’s a brain fitness program that looks to improve language, reading, memory, attention and processing all at once,” says Cohen.   

Cohen thinks the students will be fine next year, but teachers should be on the lookout for anyone exhibiting social or emotional issues.

“There’s been a lot of communication between the teachers and families, so I really think if there’s any child that shows that they’re struggling or falling behind in any area, the district will be on top of that,” Cohen says. 

Come September, there will definitely be learning deficits, predicts Jessica Campbell of Lynbrook, who teaches fourth grade special ed in Brooklyn.

“We started in person,” says Campbell. “Every time we got tested, we were closed for 10 days. I had kids not logging on, not completing the work. It’s hard for them to do it over the computer it’s not for everyone.”

Because she didn’t see the students every day, the break in continuity resulted in learning losses, Campbell says. 

“When I start fourth grade in September, I definitely have to go back, because they missed so much,” she says.

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