Years after students nationwide were forced to stay out of school due to draconian policies put in place in response to COVID-19, they are still struggling to make up for the loss in learning that accompanied widespread school shutdowns.
Even prominent mainstream media outlets that readily pushed severe public health restrictions at the time are now revising their positions in light of unavoidable evidence regarding the academic and socio-emotional toll that those policies took on children.
One recent example involves a piece published over the weekend by The New York Times editorial board, which acknowledged the “startling” learning loss and described the impact of COVID-19 restrictions as possibly “the most damaging disruption in the history of American education.”
The editorial went on to admit that even the spending approved by Congress to address this issue will soon dry up and “learning losses will remain unaddressed when the federal money runs out in 2024.”
Meanwhile, students, parents and educators are left with the seemingly insurmountable task of making up for the educational shortcomings of the pandemic era. Researchers at several reputable institutions have outlined the expected short- and long-term ramifications of school closures.
In addition to determining that elementary and middle school students lost as much as a half-year of math learning and a quarter-year of language learning as a direct result of these public health policies, research from Harvard and Stanford universities predicted that these students will grow up to earn significantly less as adults than they would have without this educational interruption.
Furthermore, the concept of chronic absence — missing 10% or more of the school days in a given academic year — among students, which became the norm during COVID-19, is still a major issue in schools across the U.S. This has not only been detrimental to academic achievement, but has hindered the ability of many students to develop healthy social connections.
Closing schools again.
Shockingly, when you tell kids school isn't essential and close for any reason at all, they start to believe they don't need school.
Definition of insanity. pic.twitter.com/Aq9H8SDmRr
— Meghan Maureen (@Keggs719) August 27, 2023
Now, the Times board is echoing concerns of many Americans, including Republican officials who argued against keeping schools closed in the first place. Specifically, the editorial calls on federal, state and local governments to take comprehensive steps designed to reverse learning loss while addressing the related mental health issues it has exacerbated.