Schools look to combat pandemic-related learning loss

"I think that children can recover, but I think everyone should be prepared to be in this for the long haul."
WESTVILLE, New Jersey (WPVI) -- As schools across our area prepare to welcome students back to buildings, they also continue to take steps to address potential pandemic related learning loss.

At Keystone Academy Charter School in the Tacony section of Philadelphia, multiple measures are being taken to combat pandemic-related learning loss.

"We want to increase staff. We are going to enhance our Saturday school. We're hiring additional aids," listed Dr. Claudia Lyles, Keystone Academy's CEO.

Dr. Lyles said while some students performed about the same or even well with remote learning, others fell behind.

"I think that children can recover, but I think everyone should be prepared to be in this for the long haul," Dr. Lyles said.

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Dr. Lyles encouraged parents to recognize and expand on everyday opportunities for learning.

"If you are riding the bus or you are in your car, talk about travel time. Talk about speed. Talk about distance. And don't forget the library system," Lyles advised.

Deptford Township School District in Gloucester County, New Jersey used a portion of its American Rescue Plan relief to fund a summer program as part of its strategy to address learning loss.

"It's something we definitely anticipated all year long. We did monitor reading levels and any data that we could get," said Tiffany Bradley, a vice principal of Shady Lane Elementary in Westville, who is also a district curriculum supervisor.

Approximately 500 district students in a district of roughly 4,000 took advantage of the summer opportunity, including many who spent the year remote.

"Not everybody had the same home situation, so being home online, it doesn't look the same in every home," Bradley explained.

Across K-12, curriculum teams have been meeting, discussing factors such as scheduling and pacing.

"We also held some articulations among the grade levels so that the teachers could say, 'OK, these were skills that we normally would look at this school year, but we are going to push them into next school's year,'" said Danielle Lehman, instructional supervisor and vice principal at Lake Tract Elementary in Deptford Township.

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But as students work toward academic recovery, the Deptford Township educators caution mental health must be a focus.

"They've been in their house, and there's things running through their mind, so we have counselors here to assist with that," said curriculum supervisor Valerie Gambale.

Gambale added, "In order for us to get that academic piece, we have to worry about their mental welfare as well."

"Kids are so resilient," Bradley said

She continued, "They're going to get it in their own time."
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