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Slowing the 'COVID-19 slide' over summer break

Posted at 11:51 AM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 07:46:15-04

As families across Arizona spend the final weeks of this school year learning from home, researchers warn COVID-19 could lead to an even bigger "summer slide."

You may know it as "summer brain drain" or "summer learning loss," but it is something educators battle every year. It is a regression of sorts in student performance after the extended break. However, with school closures now in the mix, districts across the state are bracing for an even bigger slide.

"Our children are going to be at different levels and our teachers are experts at differentiation, and identifying what students' ability levels are, and that's going to be more important than ever before," said State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman.

The Northwest Evaluation Association, or NWEA, released its projections last month on a possible "COVID-19 Slide." The nonprofit sampled five million students in grades 3-8 and say the biggest impact will be in math. Students may return in Fall 2020 with "less than 50 percent of typical learning gains and, in some grades, nearly a full year behind what we would expect in this subject in normal conditions."

"All this advice is out there, all these resources out there, but manage expectations and go from there," said Ilana Lowery, the Arizona director for Common Sense Media.

That nonprofit, known for rating entertainment and tech, recently launched Wide Open School. It is a free online portal to help students and educators fill the gaps that school closures, or even summer break, might create.

"It may not be in a math book and it may not be something that you're going to learn in history class, but we know that you can teach life skills," said Lowery.

Lowery says parents do not have to replicate the classroom to create meaningful learning opportunities.

Rather things like:

  • Virtual field trips
  • Household activities like baking, building or crafting
  • Utilizing resources from your child's school or district
  • Setting a schedule

These can all help keep kids in that structured mindset.

"This is just an opportunity for us to keep some of those activities and those things top of mind," said Lowery.