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How are Southwest Florida schools helping students catch up from setbacks of virtual learning?

Posted at 6:36 AM, Aug 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 06:36:36-04

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA — The Florida Department of Education Recently released the Florida Standard Assessment scores.

Kevin Daly, President of the Teachers Association of Lee County, said it is evident – especially through the test scores – that there is a gap in learning.

“There's no doubt that students have fallen behind, because there is no substitute for in-person learning. I think we all learned that over the past 18 months,” he said.

The learning gap is being dubbed the “Pandemic Slide;” a stark decline in academic skills from prolonged virtual learning. Daly said teachers will find ways to fill the gap.

Tracy Weeks, is the Vice President of K-12 Strategy for Canvas. Canvas is an online system for learning and teaching. Weeks said students’ experiences depend on multiple factors.

“Access students had to the teaching and learning, whether they had devices, did they have the platforms, they needed to connect with their teachers to make sure that they got all of the instructional materials and lessons. Were they able to turn things in to connect with their teachers?” she said.

Both Daly and Weeks agree that this school year will be different.

“You know we'd like to say it's going to be a perfect year, and it's going to be completely normal. But I'm a little less optimistic about the perfect year, and so it's going to be one of those where everybody's going to have to do their level best,” Daly said.

Weeks said COVID-19 could take some kids out of the classroom. If a student gets infected, teachers may have to teach hybrid while the student recovers. She said safety is important, but the education of students is the top priority.

“I think parents are eager for their students to get back to school, but at the same time, especially for children under the age of 12, there is concerns about safety. That goes on, but I think really, for the most part, we really just want to get back to great teaching and learning, and doing the best thing for students all across the country,” Weeks said.

When it comes to safety in the classroom, Daly urged parents to have grace and compassion for the schools and teachers. He said both are trying to do what is best for students.

“I think this year it's going to be a year of providing extra services and doing extra things to them to make sure we get the kids back to where they need to be, because in the final analysis, it's all about the students, and it's all about student success,” he said.

Schools are starting to catch students up to prepare for spring testing. Each local school district is implementing tools to help students get caught up.

Collier County Public Schools votes on the assessment calendar soon. CCPS will provide course recovery for middle school students. 15 of their schools will have an extra 30 minutes of instruction each day.

The School District of Lee County will bring back Connect with Lee. The program will provide homework help for students. They will be able to interact with a live teacher via Zoom. Principals in Lee County were tasked with identifying students who need individualized intervention. Elementary Schools will have literacy coaches for Kindergarten through Second Grade.

Charlotte County Public Schools said they will follow Florida state standards. They will continue to teach to the test. Charlotte County Public Schools said, “Our style of delivery to our students has worked well for us in the past, and we’re ready to get going again this year in the same fashion.”