Summer Misarti raises a sign during a protest urging San Diego Unified to release a plan for opening schools. When asked about distance learning, Misarti said, “I really don’t like it. It doesn’t feel good but it’s better than nothing.” / Photo by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran

As we reach the midpoint of the school year, we’re learning more about how students have fared with distance learning. Some teachers and district leaders suggest student learning isn’t being seriously impacted, while data tells a drastically different story.

Chronic absenteeism across the state may be surging by as much as 220 percent, reports Will Huntsberry. Whole classes of second-graders are also falling behind in reading and the achievement gap is widening.

Some experts say one in five students may be so far behind that they shouldn’t move up to the next grade level.

In response to Huntsberry’s latest Learning Curve newsletter, parents, teachers and community members shared their thoughts and experience with online learning in San Diego.

Some responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Students of All Ages Are Struggling

My 9th grader is completely checked out. Although she is still keeping straight As she is not engaged, doing the bare minimum, and her mental health has definitely been affected. Forget about the grades, let’s talk about mental health. – Ivonne Ganss

Just got my son’s report card saying “he’s not focused, doesn’t ask questions about the text, does not participate in class,” But how can he?? He’s a kindergartener in a Special Ed class on Zoom!!! – Liliana Rodriguez

It’s not just young kids either. I’ve heard of so many high schoolers that have just checked out. No show or sleeping through classes. So much learning loss! – Janette Jenson Gradyan

It’s Hard for Teachers Too

Painting a picture of what’s happening with a broad brush is the same problem we had when we were in school. Some things work for some students. Nothing works for all students. How do we tailor an educational experience, in school or virtually, which meets the needs of every student? The answer is that teachers are actively trying to figure that out EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. – Jill Dahl

This horrible situation isn’t easy on anyone. Not students or parents and certainly not teachers. I’d like to ask that everyone extend a little grace … we’ll all survive the discomfort and inconvenience of school closures and Zoom classrooms … keep in mind that some poor souls didn’t and won’t survive at all. Perspective. – Stephanie Marcopulos Dutcher

Education for the masses is still an experiment. I think it would be a great time to stop, step back and re-evaluate how children learn, how we can better serve them reaching their potential as adults, and how we can tailor education to their future fields rather than just memorizing facts they may not ever need in their lives again. – Jocelyn Figueroa

My takeaway from the article was educators are doing their very best in a difficult situation but distance learning is just not as good as in-person teaching and it’s going to take investment to close the gap. I see that as an opportunity for educators to ask for and get what they need and probably have needed for a long time. – Gavin Meagher

Some Parents Want a Pause and/or a Redo on the School Year

Am I the only one wondering why we can’t have a year to pause? Why and how are we giving accurate grades and educational access in these conditions? If kids are able to keep up or excel, let them move forward. If not, take the year to build the weaknesses the students each have. Stop with the grades for them. Teach them coping mechanics and study skills. Let them pick a passion to learn more about and share back to peers. Just take the pressure off and actually take the time we never have enough of to meet the kids’ needs. Parents need supervision and that can be done, students can use the time to get ahead or patch up weaknesses. Grading students at this moment is really just a grade of who has access to technology and family that is able to support their education. Dial it back. – Ally Ozzy

THE KIDS ARE NOT OK, and it’s breaking my heart to see them struggle through this. Why can’t we have a pandemic pause on education to ease the stress for parents, kids and teachers? – Jen Watson

“Research out of the University of Oregon draws a terrifying line between a family’s financial wellbeing and children’s development and learning.” Absolutely. The ONLY reason my son is doing well is because we are supplementing with TWO different private tutors. And it’s a significant expense. – Jessica Hughes

We should repeat the whole damn year. It’s the only thing that makes sense. – Colleen Cronin Anderson

Megan is Voice of San Diego’s director of marketing. She is responsible for producing and overseeing strategies that extend the reach of the organization....

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