HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY — “Certainly learning loss through the pandemic is an issue nationwide,” said Kevin Hendrick, Superintendent of Pinellas County Schools.
It’s an issue local school districts have been dealing with as well, making it a main priority.
“In Pinellas County, we’ve seen a really strong bounce back in our elementary schools but we have work to do still in our middle schools,” said Hendrick.
“For students to really recover some of the learning loss that’s occurred over the last 2 years is still a challenge that we’re facing,” said Terry Connor, Deputy Superintendent of Hillsborough County Schools.
President Joe Biden even tweeted about this recently, calling on schools to use American Rescue Plan funds to expand tutoring, summer learning, and after school programs.
Due to the pandemic, kids are behind in math and reading. We know how to help bridge this gap.— President Biden (@POTUS) July 5, 2022
I'm calling on schools to use American Rescue Plan funds to expand tutoring, summer learning, and afterschool programs and to provide 250,000 more tutors and mentors for our kids.
Hillsborough County has used federal money to beef up its summer programs and expand them to more kids.
“The federal funding that we received in terms to address this has been very, very helpful,” said Connor.
“We’re going to seize the opportunity while we have it to offer as many programs to support as many students as we can,” he added.
Pinellas County has summer learning opportunities too.
“We do have lots of opportunities right now for enrichment in the school district. We have art camps, STEM camps, podcasting, writing, all of those going throughout the month of July,” said Hendrick.
He's making learning loss one of his big focuses for the new year, prioritizing the student experience.
“We want students to feel like what’s going on in the classroom is of critical importance, that it’s fun that I’m learning something and that it’s not something I can just get on a computer,” said Hendrick.
“Learning is about more than just being able to watch a video or answer a question and have it auto submitted through the computer and scored and put in the grade book. It’s about talking to others, learning from others, collaborating, growing as an individual. So we’re really going to emphasize that particularly in middle school this year,” he added.
Local school leaders are urging families to take advantage of the last few weeks of summer and prepare for the upcoming school year, as fighting learning loss is critical to move forward.
“Continue that academics at home. Read on your own, compete in some of the challenges that we have set up because learning loss is important that we stem it for all students and part of that is taking that personal responsibility as a family to say we all own this and let’s make sure we contribute,” said Hendrick.