TAMPA, Fla. — As many kids prepare to go back into the classroom, many families are looking for extra support to deal with potential learning loss during e-learning and the pandemic's changes.
As a result, tutoring and homeschool support businesses like Urban Cottage Educational in Tampa's Seminole Heights saw an increase in business when e-learning first began. But now, Marissa Hess, the owner and director, said parents and students are returning before the end of the summer year to help boost extra learning and skills before returning to class to ensure they aren't falling behind.
However, Hess has a different and more positive outlook in her approach to learning loss. She feels if parents, teachers and administrators take the stress and pressure off, kids will thrive upon returning.
"Let's give them back their childhood," she said. "When you talk about learning gaps and achievement gaps, and those things are real, but where I would disagree is that so many people think that it's like a linear timeline."
She says all students are at different points in their learning and there is no one right place to be. Instead, she's encouraging families to put their faith in Tampa Bay area teachers and allow them to work on rebuilding skills with students.
"We can actually allow them to be professional artists with experience that they know," Hess said. "That's why we hired them to do what they do."
While businesses like Urban Cottage Educational are supporting students and parents, the Hillsborough County School District expanded summer learning programs to try and cope with achievement gaps.
"We have close to 14,000 students who have taken advantage of our summer learning process to help them continue to accelerate learning into moving in the right direction," said Superintendent Addison Davis with Hillsborough County Schools.
The Hillsborough County School District finding math suffered the most for high school students, with 13 percent fewer students receiving A's during the pandemic. Students receiving D's went up three percent, and F's went up eight percent, according to the district.
"We know that during this pandemic, learning loss is actually real," Davis said.
District leaders continue to tell families to stay in touch with their schools, specifically principals, for guidance on staying on track this school year.
Hillsborough County School officials also say there were not a large number of families asking their students to be held back a year due to the pandemic and resulting learning loss.