Flint educators eager to help students catch up from COVID-19 learning loss

Some teachers are worried about the impact remote-learning has had on the students’ education.
Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 5:30 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Nearly every school district in mid-Michigan now has an option available to families to send their kids back into the classroom.

Teachers say the new challenge is helping catch students up who may have fallen behind.

“We’re excited to have them because we know that they need to see us face-to-face as well as we need to see them,” Pierce Elementary 3rd grade teacher Valerie Marshall shared.

For Flint Community Schools, it’s been a year since students learned face-to-face.

“It feels like it’s supposed to feel, feels normal,” Marshall said.

She could not stop smiling, talking about getting to see some of her 3rd grade students in person this week.

And her students shared that joy.

“I saw her virtual like a million times, but I’m happy now that I get to see her face to face,” 8-year-old Jaleah explained.

She missed her friends at Pierce Elementary and says going to school by video was -- well, different.

“I had to learn to unmute my microphone, instead of just , like, raise my hand and just say it,” Jaleah said.

Jaleah’s teacher wants her students to realize they did still learn something by overcoming challenges like that.

But Ms. Marshall believes many of her students are behind academically because of virtual learning.

“I have experienced that; and then having them to come back and now I see where the gaps are,” Marshall explained. “And there have been gaps because they missed, you know half the year basically, and then to come back, virtually, it’s been a challenge. It has been a challenge, but now that they’re back it’s like, okay, let’s hit this, let’s hit these targets and let’s make sure that they gained some of that that they did lose.”

Michigan Education Association’s Uniserv Director Bruce Jordan said that loss is felt across all grade levels because “nothing replaces face-to-face” learning.

“You can have the best support network in the planet; but if you don’t know calculus at home, to help your student with calculus, you’re going to struggle, you know, and that’s an extreme case right.. but it’s not just academics that they’re losing out on,” Jordan said.

He explained without the opportunity for social interaction, some students’ social skills may also be behind.

“There’s a lot of social aspects of public education that are needed, you know, your well being, your mental -- your mental wellness. All of that really needs to be taken into consideration,” Jordan said. “I think face-to-face does that.”

At Pierce, starting Monday, the principal said 74 of their 150 K through 6th grade students are expected to return to in-person. They’re divided in half, only showing up two days a week. So virtual learning continues with teachers instructing students in-person and on zoom at the same time.

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