Fairfax County Public Schools, the largest school system in Virginia, has become ground zero for what not to do during a pandemic. The school district enforced virtual learning. and the
As it turns out, at-home virtual classes have put a deep dent in these kids' education.
BREAKING: Stunning data for Fairfax County, VA's largest school system, shows HUGE academic cost of online learning — Fs up by 83% this year.— Hannah Natanson (@hannah_natanson) November 24, 2020
Vulnerable children struggling most: Fs for students w/ disabilities up by 111%, for English learners up by 106% https://t.co/wrkIy2V9k2
Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, which has been mostly online since March, published an internal analysis this week showing that, between the last academic year and this one, the percentage of middle school and high school students earning F’s in at least two classes jumped by 83 percent: from 6 percent to 11 percent. By the end of the first quarter of 2020-2021, nearly 10,000 Fairfax students had scored F’s in two or more classes — an increase of more than 4,300 students as compared with the group who received F’s by the same time last year. (Washington Post)
The shocking findings even caught the attention of former U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.
Fairfax Cty, Va schools mostly online since March, published an internal analysis showing that, between the last academic year and this one, the percentage of middle school & high school students earning F's in at least two classes jumped by 83 percent.https://t.co/OXRM1CgrL4— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) November 25, 2020
Superintendent Scott Brabrand, who halted this fall's return to classes following an uptick in COVID cases in the Washington area, acknowledged the learning gap, but offered no concrete timeline for getting students back in the classroom.
"We are working on identifying these students by name and by need and are working on specific interventions to support them right now and as we phase back in person," he said.
We've singled out Fairfax here, but academic struggle is becoming a disturbing trend across the country. As the Washington Post points out, more than 40 percent of students are earning failing grades in at least two of their classes at the Independent School District in Houston, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Teachers' unions continue to insist on at-home learning because of safety concerns. But new research from UNICEF shows "no consistent link between reopening schools and increased rates of coronavirus infection."
In fact, as Politico summarized, "there is strong evidence that, with basic safety measures in place, the net benefits of keeping schools open outweigh the costs of closing them."