According to the results of the study, the virtual school led to a “considerable” academic loss of learning

Students sit behind barriers during a personal English class March 24 at St. Anthony Catholic High School in Long Beach, California.

Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

There is nothing like being in a classroom.

After a year of school closings and distance learning amid the coronavirus crisis, more than half of K-12 public school teachers said the pandemic had resulted in “significant” learning loss for students, both academically and socially a report by Horace Mann.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also suggests that virtual learning “carries more risks than face-to-face teaching regarding the mental and emotional health of children and parents and some health-promoting behaviors”.

“The pandemic has had a huge educational impact on our students, but there are many other implications,” said Kelly Ruwe, an education attorney at Horace Mann and a former kindergarten teacher and mother of three.

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“We have to take a step back and look at the whole child.”

Almost all – more than 97% – of educators said they experienced some learning loss in their students in the past year compared to children in previous years, and a majority, or 57%, estimated that their students were more than three months behind are socio-emotional progress, found Horace Mann.

Some teachers suggested addressing these setbacks by adding summer sessions or bringing teaching assistants into class for one-to-one or small-group classes. Still, almost a third expect more students to have to repeat a grade.

The Voice of the Educator study surveyed nearly 1,000 educators, including K-12 teachers, administrators, and public school support workers, in February and March 2021.

A separate study by McKinsey & Company found similar results worldwide. The majority of teachers from eight different countries said distance learning was a poor substitute for being back in the classroom.

The US and Japan gave distance learning the hardest results overall, with the majority of teachers rating its effectiveness only marginally better than skipping school entirely.

Economic status was also important. Educators in schools in areas of higher poverty found virtual classes particularly ineffective, adding to concerns that Covid-19 was exacerbating educational inequalities.

Other research also shows that distance learning has resulted in a significant decline in performance, particularly among black and Hispanic students, as well as students with disabilities.

According to a survey of more than 1,100 public school teachers by non-profit educational donors, students in low-income communities and minority students are disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Teachers report that these students are currently more likely to study remotely and are more likely not to have their school building open all year round.

When asked what the main obstacle to returning to a “normal” educational environment was, almost half said there was a growing gap between academically difficult and high-performing students.

On the flip side, President Joe Biden has made reopening the country’s schools for personal learning a top priority in his first 100 days in office. As part of this effort, teachers are now eligible for the Covid vaccines in all 50 states.

“The good news for students is that the 2021-2022 school year has strong potential to look more like a pre-pandemic learning environment,” Ruwe said.

The CDC also updated its guidance on how to safely reopen schools to face-to-face learning despite the spread of the virus.

The CDC now says that most students can sit 3 feet apart instead of 6 feet as long as they wear masks, regardless of whether the community transmission is low, moderate, or significant.

In a recent update to a previous report on the impact of Covid on education, McKinsey & Company outlines various other ways students can make up for lost time after the pandemic has ended.

Recommendations include 50 hours of targeted tuition over two weeks or high-intensity tutoring, which equates to 50 minutes of daily tutoring for a year – but both come with high financial costs.

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