It’s the ‘COVID Slide’, MCPS says elementary students are falling behind

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 5:53 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2021 at 9:29 PM EST
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - Marion County school district leaders are calling it the ‘COVID Slide’-- and no, it’s not the latest internet dance fad.

They said students are falling behind in their schoolwork and they are blaming the pandemic.

It’s been a difficult time for many of us during the COVID-19 pandemic but especially for our children, as they try to figure out their feelings and themselves.

“With COVID, and quarantining and having to maybe miss school and do it virtually, while I understand the reasons for that, it certainly has compounded kids and increased some anxiety and some fear,” Children Program Counselor at Hospice of Marion County, Amy Rath said.

Amy Rath has been working with grieving children for more than 25 years.

She said more children are struggling during the pandemic.

“Any loss due to a death is very painful but I think the dynamics of COVID certainly add to processing their grief. Perhaps the child did not have an opportunity to see their loved one before they died, didn’t have a chance to say good bye, or to say I love you, or express whatever they need to express,” she added.

And it’s impacting schoolwork for many children.

Related story: Marion County Public Schools ask students to return to brick and mortar school

School district data shows third through fifth grade students at 31 elementary schools are falling behind in subjects like math and language arts.

“A lot of people refer to what’s called ‘summer slide’ which is when students finish school, they’re out for the summer and their learning levels or their abilities if you will kind f go down a little bit, they kind of forget what they’ve learned in class, what we’re seeing is a similar effect with our students because of COVID-19,” MCPS Director of Public Relations, Kevin Christian said.

The school district is basing this off of both state and district practice tests, and other school assessments.

The results are showing that certain elementary students are down five percentage points from last year, and this is happening to both virtual and brick-and-mortar students.

“You have to realize, whatever happens in society, what we deal with as adults, students deal with in the classroom as well,” Christian said.

But many community leaders are working to help these students.

At the Boys and Girls Club, Barbara Brooks, CEO and Found of R.A.M.A.L. Educational & Social Services, has expanded her tutoring program to help more students get out of that COVID funk.

“Not all students have wifi, not all students have laptops, not all students have adequate work places to study,” Brooks said.

With this program, Brooks said they’re able to tutor between 10 and 11 second and third graders at this time.

And it’s not just about academics, Brooks said.

“The kids are struggling socially, they’re not connected, they’re isolated and I’m just as concerned about their social well being and their mental health as I am about their academic progress,” she said.

And social emotional issues, as well as academics, will be something these professionals will continue to work on.

Related story: Thousands of students head back to school in Marion County

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